‘Unfit Hiker’ Rescued From Mt Warning Actually An Army Vet With PTSD

If The LAD Bible taught us anything yesterday (we know), it’s that you never know what someone else is going through. (See: their Wentworth Miller meme and subsequent apology.)

It’s a valuable lesson, to be sure, and one that is already coming into play down here in Oz. Yesterday a 38-year-old hiker had to be winched by helicopter down from Mt Warning in New South Wales, to the cost of thousands of dollars and with the help of 20 rescue workers.

Dubbed the ‘unfit’ hiker by the media, he was widely criticised for his apparent lack of foresight when attempting the climb, and publicly condemned by a Tweed Rescue duty officer as being unprepared for the hike. 

“If the weather didn’t clear we were going to have to carry a 115kg man down the mountain,” the rescue officer said, describing the job of rescuing him as “frivolous”. 

Today, the hiker hit back at these remarks, explaining to the Gold Coast Bulletin that he is an army vet who froze at Mt Warning’s peak due to post-traumatic stress disorder and that he was “disgusted” to hear rescue workers “belittling” his condition.

Identifying himself as Aaron “Dogga” (the Gold Coat Bulletin agreed not to publish his last name), he said:

“Once I hit the top, that’s when my PTSD really took over and it took all my strength not to take the easy way out and leave it all behind me.

“I sat up there for what felt like about two hours, trying to relax and compose myself. I tried three times to start going back down but my brain wouldn’t let me move. There was a great group of three lads that tried to help me but they insisted I call 000.

“The last on the phone said possible dehydration but I know the signs and symptoms and peed clear, didn’t have a headache, and I still had water with me.”

Dogga said he was first diagnosed with PTSD in 2006 after badly injuring his spine in a horrific army vehicle crash. He went on to serve two tours in Afghanistan, during which his close friend Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was killed by a sniper in 2011.

Dogga, who was medically discharged in 2014, said he was upset that rescue workers assumed he’d only got into trouble because he ignored warning signs and was ill-prepared with no food and just a little water.

“I had plenty of water, a salad wrap, an apple and a muesli bar,” he said.

“I am upset… because PTSD is a real condition.”

Source: Gold Coast Bulletin.
Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin.

If you’re struggling with PTSD and want to chat to someone, call BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or veterans and their loved ones can contact the Veterans and Veterans Family Counselling Service on 1800 011 046.