Then tragedy struck our family. That Sunday morning at the end of November 1, having been out the previous evening, was wakened by Jim walking on the mosaic stoep in his nailed climbing boots, and I wished he hadn�t wakened me so early. Jim was very popular and had masses of girlfriends, and that day he went climbing with Paddy Crowhurst and Gretie, Helene and Mary (two of whom were in love with him and both of whose later marriages failed).
The following extracts are from the Cape Times and the Cape Argus during the next few days.
�An unusual accident resulted in the death of Mr James Simpson Wells, an experienced climber, on Table Mountain yesterday.�
Paddy�s account: �Wells tested an enormous boulder, which he thought would bear his weight, but it did not. He fell through the air still clinging to the boulder. He landed with it and then the boulder crashed on down the mountainside. Wells rolled a little way and stopped on a ledge. We hurried down and found that his left leg was badly broken, and he could feel nothing in his legs. Nothing could have been done to prevent the accident it could not have been foreseen. Jubilee Ravine is not regarded as a danger spot.�
Paddy, Mary and Helene stayed with Jim while Gretie set out for help, taking a difficult traverse to Porcupine Ridge where she met Mountain Club members who fetched a first-aid outfit and Lowmoor jacket from the Club hut.
�Dr Simpson Wells, who has often in the past assisted at other mountain accidents, was called by telephone and he and Dr Lennox Gordon and Mr Fanner climbed up to the scene. They arrived at 1.30... Mr Wells was faint from pain and able to talk only with difficulty. He was cheerful, but spoke little..~He could feel nothing in his legs.
�It was not until 4 o�clock that it was possible to begin carrying him down. twenty-five mountaineers took turns at carrying the stretcher down the difficult route. Several stops were made for injections of morphia and strychnine.
�When the diagonal traverse path was reached at 6 o�clock, and the slope down the mountain was about to begin, it was seen that Mr Wells was sinking. He died within a few minutes.�
When Dad got the telephone message in the morning, we were gravely concerned, and Mother got Mrs Groves to come and Sit with her. I hung around miserably - I can't remember where Shena (I think she was overseas) and Russell were. Dad came home in the evening and said: �It�s all over. Jim�s dead.� Jim�s body was brought home and he was laid out in his bedroom. I wouldn�t go and see him, though Mother assured me that he looked very peaceful. Next day Dr Booth Coventry, Gardens Minister, spent time with us - he tried to comfort me, but I flung away weeping. The only constructive help I could give my parents was to tell them that, when Jim and I had been to Dot Spiers� funeral some little time before at Plumstead Cemetery, he had said: �What a beautiful place - I wouldn�t mind being buried here.�