WILDERNESS:– Sunday 15th January, 2012. Near drowning:
At 11h12 NSRI Wilderness volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of a drowning in progress at Swartvlei Beach, near Wilderness.
Our NSRI Wilderness volunteer sea rescue swimmer Torsten Henschel was dispatched to respond directly to the scene while our NSRI duty crew towed our sea rescue craft SERENDIPITY to be launched on arrival on-scene.
WC Government Health: EMS, and Private ambulance services and SA National Park rangers also responded to the scene.
When Torsten reached the beach he found that the two duty lifeguards had attempted to reach a 15 year old boy who was being swept out to sea in incredibly strong rip-currents and 4 meter breaking surf in a confused choppy sea state, but the lifeguards had returned to the beach after being unable to reach the boy because of the rough sea.
Torsten, wearing fins and taking a rescue torpedo buoy along with him, swam out using the strong rip-current to reach the casualty at the breaker back-line, about 300 meters off-shore, and using the torpedo rescue buoy he managed to secure the teenager, keeping him afloat.
SERENDIPITY was launched from the Swartvlei beach and reached Torsten and the boy and they were both taken onboard the sea rescue craft.
They were brought ashore and paramedics stabilized the boy, a boarder from Die Bult High School. He has been transported to hospital in a stable but serious condition suffering near drowning symptoms. He is expected to make a full recovery.
“This was a team effort,” said Torsten.
“When I swim, I know my mates are coming with the boat …and boy, was I relieved to see that rescue boat today.”
“The sea was not kind.”
A group of 10 pupils had been at the beach on a school outing accompanied by a senior teacher. The boy was swept off his feet while wading in shallow surf before being swept out by the strong sea rip-current.
NSRI Wilderness rescue swimmer Torsten Henschel is commended for his efforts to reach the teenager.
Fanus Pauw, a senior teacher who accompanied the teenagers to the beach, on a regular outing, had made certain that the teenagers in his care swam, waded and played in the surf where lifeguards had posted their red and yellow safe swimming zone flags and made certain that the teenagers did not venture too deep into the water.
It is suspected that a rip-current suddenly formed while the children were playing in the shallow water.
The boy found himself thrown off balance by the strong rip-current and swept off his feet while wading less than waist deep in shallow surf.
He did not try to swim against the current after he found himself out of his depth and being swept out to sea for fear of becoming exhausted but he did manage to stay afloat by treading water.
The schools teachers and Principal had prepared the children in their care for the dangers that the sea may pose, and what to do in an emergency like this one.
Fanus had also stored the local Sea Rescue emergency phone number in his cellphone. By calling the number directly, the quick action of the NSRI Wilderness duty crew, as well as Torsten Henschel’s bravery, a tragedy was averted at Swartvlei Beach today.
The boy is also commended for not fighting the current and waiting for help to arrive.
NSRI is urging people living at the coast and people visiting the coast to find out what the nearest direct sea rescue emergency number is – click on EMERGENCY NUMBERS to get the telephone number of your nearest NSRI station.
Seconds could mean the difference between life and death and the incident at Swartvlei Beach today has highlighted this urgent appeal.
PORT ST JOHNS: Sunday 15th January 2012. Swimmer dies following shark bites:
At 15h00 NSRI Port St Johns volunteer sea rescue duty crew were called out following reports of a man who was bitten by a shark while swimming at Second Beach, Port St Johns.
On arrival lifeguards and EC Government Health: EMS paramedics were fighting to save the life of a 25 year old man, from the region of Tombo, Transkei, who had sustained multiple traumatic lacerations to his torso, arms and legs after a shark bit him numerous times while he was swimming in waist deep water amongst a crowd of bathers.
A surfer, and other bathers, managed to rescue him from the surf and lifeguards on duty at the beach and a doctor who happened to be at the beach at the time began treatment before EMS paramedics arrived and who continued with treatment while transporting the man to a local clinic in a critical condition.
At the clinic medical staff declared the man dead after all efforts to save him had been exhausted.
Sea conditions at the time were poor visibility and very warm water.
The Natal Sharks Board are currently carrying out studies in an effort to try to determine why there has been such a frequent spate of shark incidents in Port St Johns.
HOUT BAY : Sunday 15th January, 2012. Teenager missing presumed drowned:
At 15h00 Hout Bay volunteers were called out following reports of a drowning in progress at Flora Bay, next to Hout Bay main beach.
Hout Bay duty crew launched MTU NADINE GORDIMER and ALBIE MATTHEWS and the WC Government Health: EMS, the Skymed helicopter, Law Enforcement officers and the SA Police Force responded.
An extensive sea, air and shore search has revealed no sign of a 14 year boy, from Hout Bay, who is missing and who is presumed to have drowned.
A Police dive unit was called and has joined in the ongoing search operation.
An inquest docket has been opened by Police and the child’s mother, family and friends who were at the beach at the time are being attended to by Police trauma counselors.
Various eye-witnesses, including family of the child, a motorcyclist on Chapmans Peak Drive and a Law Enforcement officer witnessed the child disappearing under the water about 30 meters off-shore of Flora Bay (about 30 meters from Leopard Rock) while swimming.