Gus Thompson, the father of former SA Olympic-medallist rower James Thompson, was found dead on Chapmans Peak in Cape Town on Saturday, more than a week after he disappeared from a frail-care facility in Noordhoek.
James Thompson referred SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE to Gwen Sparks, who is acting as a spokesperson for the family.
“Gus was found below the picnic area at Chapman’s Peak at 9am. The last sighting of him was last Thursday on the CCTV system on Chapman’s Peak,” she said.
The cause of death has not been officially ascertained.
“It was a cold and stormy night when Gus went missing, so we suspect he wandered down the mountain — which was his favourite place on Earth — fell asleep and succumbed to hypothermia.
“He was found next to a stream in one of his favourite areas and it looks like he drifted off peacefully after falling asleep.”
Sparks said Thompon, 70, was “very fit for his age”.
“I have run the distance from Chapman’s to lower Hout Bay and that was about 10km. Gus must have walked about 15km the night he went missing,” she said.
According to a message on Facebook on Saturday by Gus’s daughter Alice, he “loved to explore the mountains before his health declined and prevented him from doing so”.
The family thanked volunteers who assisted in the search for the missing man.
“Special thanks to all the volunteers from WSAR (Wilderness Search and Rescue) Western Cape who gave up nine days of their lives to finding our beloved Gus and bringing us this much-needed closure.”
Social media users were also thanked by the Thompsons. “We appreciate every share on social media, everyone who joined the search, every flyer handed out and every message of support we received.”
James won a gold medal in the men's lightweight coxless four-event at the 2012 Summer Olympics, with teammates John Smith, Matthew Brittain, and Sizwe Ndlovu. He retired as a professional rower in 2017.