Australian Tourist Collapses & Dies on Kokoda Track

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Daniel Leahy
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Australian Tourist Collapses & Dies on Kokoda Track

Post by Daniel Leahy » Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:45 am

The following comes from today's NATIONAL:
http://www.thenational.com.pg/062106/nation4.htm
Aussie collapses and dies trekking Kokoda
THE increasingly popular Kokoda Track pilgrimage has claimed the life of an Australian man, who collapsed and died on a mountain despite his mates? attempts to save him.
The gruelling 96km track had become a popular destination for Australians keen to relive the heroics of Australia?s wartime diggers.
In the first death of a tourist on the track in recent memory, 35-year-old Victorian Ian Andrew Bergman died two days into the trek, which crosses rugged terrain in the Owen Stanley Range. A post mortem was to be held yesterday in Port Moresby.
An outwardly healthy Bergman was walking the track from the Owers? Corner end with friends last Wednesday when he became dizzy and collapsed, a police spokesman said yesterday.
Kokoda Trail Authority chief executive officer Warren Bartlett said Bergman, of Blackburn in Melbourne, was walking behind a couple of his mates when he collapsed late in the day.
?A porter rushed up to say he was having trouble on the mountain.?
His friends rushed back but could not revive him. A helicopter airlifted Bergman?s body out the following day.
Gail Thomas, who runs the trekking company Bergman was travelling with, said he appeared to have died of natural causes and all were shocked by his death, including the local trekking guides. ?It?s obviously very sad for all of us and the boys are pretty choked up, he didn?t fall off any mountain, he just collapsed,? she said.
The Kokoda Track was made famous by Australian diggers who fought off Japanese troops trying to cross the mountains to capture Port Moresby in 1942.
Nearly 1,500 people had walked the track so far this year, compared with 2,354 last year - most of them Australians.
In April alone, 730 people walked the track. Some, like the federal minister for human services Joe Hockey and opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd, timed their journey to coincide with Anzac Day.
But hot humid days, intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and endemic tropical diseases can make Kokoda a challenge.
?All trekkers are supposed to have a fairly thorough medical done by their doctor,? Bartlett said.
?It?s a very strenuous exercise to walk over the track so anyone with a heart condition should not walk it. It should only be recommended for fit and energetic people.?
Anyone who had a heart attack would be unlikely to get out alive, given the isolation of the track.
Walkers usually take six to nine days to cross the many high ridges on the route.
Part of the challenge is the track?s gruelling nature and the chance to understand a little of the hardship Australian soldiers faced in 1942.
Thomas said Bergman?s father Ian told her by phone from Australia that his son had trained for four months for the trek and was so excited he hadn?t stopped talking about it during that time.
A medical evacuation consultant in Port Moresby said it should be mandatory for trekking companies to require doctors? certificates from clients planning to walk the track.
?In a lot of cases, we don?t believe there?s enough information being given about the level of fitness needed,? Medivac Pacific Services consultant Brad Bailey said. ? AAP
Daniel Leahy
Canberra, Australia

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Daniel Leahy
Lt Col
Posts: 284
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2002 10:21 pm
Location: Australia
Contact:

Post by Daniel Leahy » Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:47 pm

More about this from today's NATIONAL:
http://www.thenational.com.pg/062206/nation21.htm
Kokoda memorial for Australian trekker

A SIMPLE memorial has been erected on the Kokoda Track to mark the death of an Australian trekker who wanted to walk in the footsteps of the World War II diggers he admired so much.
Ian Andrew Bergman, 35, of Blackburn in Melbourne, collapsed and died on the track last Wednesday, two days into the 96km trek across Papua New Guinea?s rugged Owen Stanley Ranges.
His brother Gavin Bergman and stepsister Andrea Wymond were in Port Moresby yesterday, preparing to return his body to Australia today.
They said their brother had a passion for the wartime history of the Kokoda Track, where in 1942 Australian troops stopped the Japanese reaching Port Moresby.
Ian Bergman had trained and prepared since the start of the year and was very excited about seeing where the Australians had fought.
?That was the whole point of the trek, the significance of what it meant to Australia,? Gavin Bergman said.
?That?s why they went from Ower?s Corner to Kokoda rather than the other way back because that?s the way the diggers trekked, so he wanted to go that way.?
Ms Wymond said that
a simple memorial had been erected at the
spot where her brother died.
?We have talked about coming back and trekking in to see that spot.
?The porters set up the memorial just using sticks and they?ve planted a plant and surrounded it with flowers. We are aware that other trekkers coming through were pausing at that spot and having a bit of reflection.
?It would be nice to come back and experience this beautiful country without the grief hanging over us.?
A post-mortem examination had failed to establish why Mr Bergman died but further tests would be conducted in Australia, a police spokeswoman said.
Gavin Bergman said that the track was obviously a very difficult walk.
?People come out of it and say it?s the hardest thing they?ve done. It goes without saying it?s going to tax anyone who goes on it.? ? AAP
Daniel Leahy
Canberra, Australia

RAAF CASUALTY DATABASE
http://www.raafdb.com

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