At 12h27, Monday, 09th March, NSRI Port Edward duty crew were activated following a call for assistance from a local man and his wife reporting a drowning in progress at Port Edward main beach.
A 35 year old female, reportedly employed by the local Municipality in beach cleaning and beach maintenance, appears to have gone for a lunch time dip in the ocean with colleagues but was swept out to sea by strong rip currents.
On NSRI’s arrival they found local Ocean View Guest House owner Peter Brereton, 58, and his wife Theresa, conducting Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) efforts on a female on the beach. NSRI medics took over the CPR efforts and were joined by KZN Private Ambulance Service paramedics. Sadly, after all efforts to resuscitate the woman were exhausted, she was declared deceased by paramedics and her body has been taken into the care of the Police and the Forensic Pathology Services. Police have opened an inquest docket.
NSRI and the Emergency Services express sincere condolences to the family.
Peter Brereton and his wife Theresa were on the beach at the time with their two dogs. Peter had just returned from fishing on his jet-ski having caught a 14kg Yellow Fin Tuna when he noticed a commotion on the beach with people screaming and pointing out to sea.
Peter couldn’t see anyone in the surf line but, realising that there was most likely a person in difficulty, he immediately called the NSRI to raise the alarm. He then launched his jet-ski and went over to the rocks where the majority of the people were shouting and pointing out towards the sea. Realising then that it was confirmed to be a person being swept out to sea in extremely strong rip currents and knowing that the people on the rocks could see the person in trouble, he shouted to a bystander, Simthembile Bitsha (25) to hop onto his jet-ski so that Simthembile could go with him and direct him to the person in trouble.
Very soon, with Simthembile’s assistance, they came across a woman in dire difficulty in the water.
Peter gave over the helm of his jet-ski to Simthembile, quickly showing him how to drive the jet-ski. Peter leapt into the water but the woman was in a panicked state and Peter was able to rescue-swim her towards the shore with the aid of the incoming waves.
By that stage the jet-ski had capsized and Peter shouted to Simthembile to stay with the jet-ski and just hold on. Simthembile was able to climb onto the capsized jet-ski and ride waves to shore. (Peter knew that the jet-ski would wash ashore and if Simthembile stayed with the jet-ski he too would get safely to shore which he did)
Peter managed to rescue-swim the female through the surf, eventually reaching sand where he could stand. Peter shouted to bystanders to come and help him to get her ashore. Two men came to his aid and together they got the woman to the beach where Peter initiated CPR before being joined by NSRI Port Edward medics who took over.
Peter was treated for exhaustion but required no further assistance.
Peter is saddened that the woman died and expressed his sincere condolences to her family and friends.
In his younger years (for about a 15 year stint) Peter rescued people in Port Edward using a rigid inflatable rubber-duck, before Sea Rescue started an NSRI station in Port Edward. He once conducted a rescue operation 25 nautical miles out to sea and he was a member of NSRI Port Edward for a short while during its inception. He is still, to this day, an avid supporter of the NSRI.
NSRI commend Peter for his gallant effort and quick thinking today. Despite the sad outcome every effort was made to try to save the lady’s life.
Simthembile is commended for bravely going out with Peter on the jet-ski and playing an integral part in directing Peter to the victim.
Family and colleagues of the victim have thanked Peter for his efforts.
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