A Harley-Davidson rider is lucky to be alive after being rescued by the SES following a 20m plunge off a cliff in the Victorian Alps near Bright on Saturday (7 March 2020).
Myrtleford Police Sgt Paul Evans says the rider failed to take a tight 45-degree corner near the summit of Happy Valley Rd.
The rider and his bike skidded off the road with the Harley landing on top of the rider.
“There was a 2m skid in the gravel and then a metre with two skids which shows he went sideways, then he’s gone airborne,” he says.
The rider was not found for almost 90 minutes after the crash about 2pm.
“He was in a group of riders and to their credit they had a plan that the ‘tail-end Charley’ does a head count and when someone is not accounted for they start searching,” Sgt Evans says.
“They thought he might have run out of fuel or got ahead of them, so it took about an hour and a half to find him.
“But without that riding plan, he wouldn’t have been found for a while longer.
“I can’t emphasise enough that if you are riding in the bush you should have someone at the back who does a head count.”
Bright SES Unit Controller Roy Kennedy says they had to call in Bright’s High Angle rescue team, composed of members from Bright SES and Mount Beauty CFA.
More than 20 personnel were involved in rescuing the rider who was choppered to Wangaratta Hospital with serious internal injuries.
We wish him a speedy and full recovery.
Roy says that despite the area being popular with riders, the SES did not attend a lot of motorcycle crashes.
“In a lot of cases we haven’t had to attend because if the bike goes off the road, the rider usually gets off before their bike goes over the edge,” Roy says.
“In this case he went over the edge with the bike.
“It was pretty nasty.”
Bright is a popular destination for riders
Roy, a former Triumph Bonneville owner, says a lot of interstate riders come through the Victorian Alps region on their way to Phillip Island for the MotoGP and World Superbikes who don’t know the challenging mountainous area very well.
“You’ve got to know the road,” he says.
“If you don’t, riders need to ride within their capabilities. That’s the key.”
He acknowledged the good behaviour of motorists who cleared the road for the rescue vehicles.
The area was devastated by bushfires over summer, but riders are now returning to the scenic Victorian Alps.
While locals have welcomed the return of tourists, the down-side is that SES crews have been active again after a busy fire season.