A 36-year-old National Parks contractor has died and two co-workers are being airlifted to hospital after a rock slide on the National Pass walking track in Wentworth Falls earlier today, emergency services have confirmed.
Police have winched out a 27-year-old man with leg and pelvic injuries and are in the process of winching out a 26-year-old man. The 27-year-old was in a critical condition.
The site has been declared a crime scene and the coroner has started investigations.
A police guard will be placed at the scene tonight and the body of the third man, which is trapped under a rock boulder, will remain at the site as an expert from Public Works assesses the safety of the operation tomorrow.
The men involved were contractors for National Parks and the men were “making safe” a walk that has been closed for three months.
“They were treating and identifying a rock fall,” David Crust, a National Parks spokesman for the Blue Mountains area told media at the scene.
Blue Mountains Local Area Command Superintendent, Darryl Jobson, who was visibly shaken at the scene told media it had taken an hour to get to the men after being alerted at 11.40am.
The first concern was for the safety of the responders, Supt Jobson told media in a conference at 3.30pm at the scene.
Police had earlier confirmed that the three people involved “are not tourists”. Police have not released the names or towns of the three men as they have not been able to reach one of the three families.
An Office of the Environment and Heritage spokeswoman issued a statement at 4.15pm today.
The statement is as follows:
“National Parks and Wildlife Service is deeply saddened by the events that occurred today on a closed section of the National Pass track in Blue Mountains National Park.
“Our condolences go to the family of the contractor who was killed and our thoughts are with the other members of the crew who were injured.
“The National Pass walking track between Valley of the Waters and Slack Stairs has been closed since 31 August due to an identified risk of unstable sections of rock.
“Work to make the track safe was underway by experienced contractors.
“NPWS will be assisting NSW Police and Safework NSW with their enquiries into this matter.
“The NPWS routinely monitors walking tracks in the Blue Mountains for rock fall hazards.
“This track was closed due to an identified risk.”
Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying “our hearts go out to those impacted by this awful tragedy”.
“When things like this happen in our community we have a habit of coming together for those affected.
“I express my deepest sympathy to everyone touched by this tragedy,” he said.
Earlier today a NSW Ambulance spokesman told the Gazette one patient has been “confirmed deceased and two other patients trapped, at least one of them with serious, significant injuries”.
An Ambulance Media spokesperson has issued a statement at 3.25pm today:
“One of the patients at Wentworth Falls has now been winched from the scene.
“The patient has suffered multiple fractures and is currently being transported by helicopter to Westmead Hospital in a serious condition.
The other patient remains on scene a stable condition, awaiting extrication by helicopter.”
Earlier today Ambulance said:
“We are preparing to winch in a medical team – critical care paramedic and doctor,” the spokesman said.
“A party of Special Operations Team Paramedics trained in remote area access and rescue are also in the process of accessing the scene on foot.”
Police issued a statement at 1.35pm confirming “one man has died and two men have been injured. Their ages are not yet known”.
“Due to the remote location of the landslide it took rescuers some time to reach the site,” police said.
National Parks has issued an alert on their website that the “Wentworth Pass is closed due to a rockfall on National Pass. Police Rescue operation in progress”.
“It affects three locations in the park – Den Fenella walking track, National Pass and Wentworth Pass loop walking track.” the website alert said.
Police Media issued another statement shortly before 3pm explaining SafeWork NSW had been notified about the incident.
“The incident took place on a closed track and there is no risk to the public, however they are still being asked to avoid the area.
All tracks in the Wentworth Falls precinct have been closed to assist with medivac not due to safety.”
Blue Mountains Police confirmed the incident in the national park with rescue crews and general detectives heading to the scene at 11.40am.
Fifteen ambulance resources are at, or heading to the scene, including three NSW Ambulance and Toll Rescue Helicopters, Special Operations Team Paramedics and a road medical team.
Police issued the following statement at 1.30pm confirming one had died in a landslide at Wentworth Falls
“Emergency services are responding to reports of a landslide at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains.
About 11:40am (Wednesday 29 November 2017), emergency services were called to the Wentworth Falls Walk at Wentworth Falls, after reports a number of people had been injured.
Due to the remote location of the landslide it took rescuers some time to reach the site.
At this stage, one person has died and three others injured.
A command post has been established at the end of Falls Road and several emergency services including officers from Blue Mountains Local Area Command, Blue Mountains police rescue, Polair, NSW Ambulance, Fire and Rescue NSW, and National Parks and Wildlife Service have responded.
Members of the public are asked to avoid the area.
No further information is available at this stage.”
A SafeWork NSW spokeswoman told the Gazette they have “been notified about an incident at Wentworth Falls today. We are liaising with emergency services”.