NATIONAL – Saturday, 31st DECEMBER, 2011:
At 14h56 NSRI Gordon’s Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following reports from members of the public, who had flagged down a Metro EMS ambulance on Beach Road, Strand, claiming that a man was drowning in the sea.
Gordon’s Bay duty crew launched their sea rescue craft and a Metro EMS rescue squad, the SA Police Force and the Metro EMS Skymed helicopter responded while paramedics from the Metro EMS ambulance that was flagged down responded to to the scene investigate.
Prior to NSRI arriving on-scene Metro EMS paramedics confirmed that the victim, a 28 year old man, from Sarepta, was out of the water where paramedics declared him dead.
The body of the man has been handed into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an inquest docket.
At 01h15 on Saturday 31st December East London volunteers and Metro EMS were activated by Police to muster at the Kei Mouth ski-boat club following reports of 4 men overdue and missing from a white water rafting expedition on the Great Fish River.
The 4 young men had, it appears, embarked on an adventure, to white water raft the Great Fish River in a day, a trip that could at best normally take up to 5 days, and they had apparently confidently requested a parent of one of the men to meet them at the Kei Mouth ski-boat club at 17h00.
They were dropped off by a parent at 08h00 at the Kei River bridge, 70 kilometers upstream, with no life-jackets, no communications device, no red-distress flares, no safety equipment, no emergency rations, and in only their shorts, T-shirts, a hot-dog each, some water, 2 paddles and a 3 meter dinghy rubber-duck. When they failed to arrive as scheduled the families became concerned and reported the matter to local police at approximately 22h00.
When they had still not arrived at their destination by midnight Police summoned a Metro EMS search and rescue team, a Police team and an NSRI team to join forces to begin a search and rescue operation.
NSRI towed our LOTTO rescue runner and our rescue rigid inflatable, Metro EMS towed their rescue rigid inflatable, all three craft to be launched on-scene, and a Metro EMS helicopter was prepared for flight to begin a search from first light while rescue teams on foot began a search party.
Concerned parents also gathered at the ski-boat club anxious for news of the young mens fate.
The Metro EMS helicopter, while searching from first light, spotted the 4 men just 5 miles from where they had begun their adventure and after managing to land in a nearby valley all 4 were ‘rescued’ and airlifted to their waiting families.
They claim that they had used the internet to Google the distance and had made what they thought were adequate plans (thinking they would cover 10 kilometers an hour!) but they appeared shell shocked to learn that they had only covered 5 miles on their first day. To keep warm they had set up camp and slept under their boat and they say they had no idea anyone would come looking for them. It appears that they are still under the impression that they would have made it the remaining distance by lunch time today but once in the helicopter and while flying downstream to their waiting parents Metro EMS paramedics confirm that they got quite wide eyed when they realized just how much further they had to still go.
Their plans were unrealistic and at that rate of travel they would have taken 7 days to cover the distance according to Richards Bay Dorian Robertson.
The 4 men, Charl Pienaar, 26, Jason Jooste, 23, Bradley Halgreen, 19, and Michael Randall, 19, all from East London, have apologized to their parents and to their rescuers.
Table Bay duty crew were called out by the Transnet National Ports Authority at 08h34 to assist the yacht VOYAGER whose prop shaft had seized. She had contacted Maritime Radio Services requesting a tow and reporting to be off Granger Bay.
Table Bay sea rescue boat SPIRIT OF VODACOM launched and on arrival a tow-line was rigged and the yacht was brought safely to a mooring on North Wharf in the V&A Harbour.
The 2 owners on board, Rick and Souza Goltz are from Cape Canaveral, Florida USA and are planning on staying in Cape Town for a month. Their last port of call was Port Elizabeth.