The body was airlifted from the gorge by helicopter. V. M.
A 37-year-old Marbella man died on Sunday in an abseiling accident while descending the famous Tajo gorge in Ronda.
Miguel Fernández, who had run a successful ‘chiringuito’ on Playa la Fontanilla in Marbella for the last nine years, was apparently tipped upside down by the force of the waterfall and came out of his harness. His wife, Belén, is due to give birth to their second child within days. Their son has just turned two.
“I’m taking the day off today,” Miguel told his friend Michael Brea, a waiter in the neighbouring ‘chiringuito’, on Sunday morning.
Miguel’s abseiling course had been a birthday present from one of his sisters, who runs a restaurant in Benahavís.
“It was that same sister who, hours later, at 7 o’clock, came running to the chiringuito to tell Belén, his wife, and Miguel’s mother that the police had called her to say there had been an accident. He had incredible bad luck,” Brea told SUR.
The waiter explained that his friend had had such a good summer that he was looking forward to closing in the evenings from November to spend some time with his family.
Everyone who knew the victim described him as “friendly” and “kind”.
This wasn’t the first time that he had practised a dangerous sport - the powerful motorbike and surfboard parked inside his chiringuito bear witness to this - although friends believe this was the first time he had tried abseiling.
“We think he was a beginner. And he weighed 100 kilos, perhaps too much for the force of the water that hit him in the chest and made him fall,” said Brea.
A member of the Andalusian Federation of Pot holing and Canyoning, José Enrique Sánchez, confirmed that “there is no legislation in Andalucía that prohibits practising this sport on days when there is a greater volume of water falling”.
“The group leader is responsible for deciding if a client should or shouldn’t do the descent,” he added.
Miguel had gone on the trip with a Benahavís-based firm that offers adventure sports. One of the partners, José Antonio Castillo, told SUR on Monday that he was “especially affected because Miguel was practically one of the family, as his brother is married to my niece.” He added that the instructor who was with the group in Ronda, Leonardo Andrades, was “devastated” and was being questioned by the Ronda police.
“Nobody can remember a case like this. There are thousands of hypotheses,” he said, adding that before tackling the gorge the group had climbed the Vía Ferrata without problems. “He was in good form,” he said.
The police have explained that Miguel was secured with a double harness and controlled by the instructor from above. They stated that all of the equipment used by the group was in order, as well as the firm’s paperwork and insurance policies
Companions and instructors tried to revive Miguel for 30 minutes after his fall. His body was lifted from the bottom of the gorge by helicopter in a difficult operation. He was cremated in Marbella on Tuesday.