EAST LONDON: 20th NOVEMBER 2011. COUPLE FOUND AFTER CALL FOR HELP:
Mercia Van Tonder, 65, and her husband Johan, 67, both from East London, embarked on a gentle walk at around 08h00 this morning (Sunday, 20th November) armed with a liter of water, a 500ml cool drink and 3 bananas on the Umtiza hiking trail (known as the Dassie Trail) about 15 kilometers inland of East London.
Mercia told the NSRI, after being rescued late this afternoon, that almost immediately into their walk the trail they were on seemed to disappear and they tried, in vain to find the trail or foot path.
They fought their way through dense bush but, they were eventually trapped and by thick bush and had no idea where they were in relation to where their walk had begun.
Fortunately they had a cellphone signal and they phoned a family member in Brakpan at around 14h00 who raised the alarm.
Metro EMS, a Metro EMS rescue squad, a Metro EMS rescue helicopter, a Police Search and Rescue K-9 unit, SA National Parks rangers and the NSRI East London volunteer duty crew were all called out.
“Knowing how thick that bush is we needed a lot of manpower to cover the terrain before dark” said Geoff McGregor, NSRI East London station commander.
It was ascertained that the couple had started their hike at what is normally the ending point of the trail and the rescue teams fanned out to begin a search at around 15h30. The couple, anxious because Johan suffers from a heart condition had, according to Geoff, made the right decision. Once they realized that they needed help, they stayed put and did not move any further.
The search became more intense after rescuers realized that in the thick bush, light was fading fast as the afternoon drew on and at approximately 16h45 the couple were spotted by the helicopter rescue team who guided rescuers who were on foot to their location. They were not too far from where they had begun their walk but quite a distance from any of the foot trails. “Their relief at being found was obvious” said Geoff.
It then took rescuers about another hour and a half to walk them out of their predicament, cutting their way through barely accessible thick bush, and eventually back to civilization.
The couple have sincerely thanked their rescuers.
HERMANUS 20 NOVEMBER 2011. CHARTER BOAT ASSISTED:
At 14h03 on Sunday 20th November NSRI Hermanus duty crew were called to assist the local 15 meter charter boat HERMANUS WHALE CRUISES reporting to have lost her rudder while on a charter in Walker Bay.
It was unclear at first how many passengers were onboard and our duty crew launched the sea rescue craft SOUTH STAR, HUNTERS GOLD RESCUER and LA JENMAR II. On arrival it was found that her sister boat MAROSHGA was found towing the casualty craft.NSRI Hermanus took over the tow and towed the boat and her 3 crew and 7 passengers safely to Hermanus harbour.
KNYSNA 19 NOVEMBER 2011. MAN DROWNS IN LAGOON:
At 13h30 on Saturday 19th November Knysna sea rescue crew responded to a drowning at Thesen Jetty, Knysna Lagoon. NSRI rescue swimmers responded directly to the scene and Police and Metro EMS responded.
On arrival on-scene NSRI members found that Police officers, who had arrived on-scene first, had recovered the body of a man from the water and paramedics declared the man dead.
While it is believed that the deceased man was a taxi driver for a religious group from Port Elizabeth who had apparently come to the Lagoon on a religious tour the exact details of what transpired and the circumstances surrounding the drowning accident are being investigated by Police who have opened an inquest docket.
FALSE BAY 19th November 2011. Two near drowning incidents close to each other:
At 17h12 on Saturday 19th November NSRI Strandfontein were called out following reports of three people in difficulty in the surf at Nine Miles Beach. Our volunteer duty crew responded to the Strandfontein base to launch a sea rescue boat and NSRI rescue swimmers responded directly to the scene.
On arrival the rescue swimmers found that a girl had been swept out by a rip-current. Her father and an on duty life guard had managed to rescue her, and all three were safely out of the water.
Then at 17h58 on Saturday 19th November Strandfontein were alerted by lifeguards who were on their way home from duty stand-by at Strandfontein Beach that a woman was being swept out to sea in a rip current at the beach.
Together the NSRI Strandfontein rescue swimmers and the lifeguards went into the surf, a few hundred meters West of the Strandfontein tidal pool, and rescued a 22 year old, from Lotus River. Oxygen was administered to her as she showed signs and symptoms of near drowning and was experiencing breathing difficulties.
Metro EMS paramedics continued with treatment when they arrived and transported the patient, who was in a serous but stable condition, by ambulance to hospital.
NSRI encourages bathers to swim only at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty and swim between the red and yellow flags.