Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander, said: “At 18h20, Tuesday, 07th July, I was called by Paula, the wife of 41 year old Rian Leisegang of Fish Hoek, who reported that she had been waiting at Millers Point for her husband and his brother-in-law & paddling partner Anthony Fryer to arrive from a Fish Hoek to Millers Point downwind paddle in the gusting to 45 knot North Westerly winds and 1 meter swell. Only Anthony had arrived at Millers Point and he had told Paula that he had lost sight of Riaan during a squall about a nautical mile off Millers Point.
“They waited a while together but Rian failed to turn up.
“Paula had then driven to her mother’s house in Murdoch Valley where she raised the alarm.
“Paula was instructed to return to Millers Point and to call if he arrived while NSRI Simon’s Town crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA). We launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III and SPIRIT OF SURFSKI II and Riaan’s father-in-law launched his private boat from Simon’s Town harbour to join in a search while our NSRI rescue vehicle began scouring the shoreline towards Millers Point.
“Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) rangers went to Buffels Bay, further towards Cape Point, in the hope that they may find Rian if he had overshot the Millers Point area in the strong gale force winds and had maybe come ashore at Buffels Bay. They did not find him there and they continued a shoreline search back towards Millers Point.
“A full scale search and rescue operation had commenced.
“A family that are camping at the Millers Point Caravan Park had just arrived back at their caravan to find that their tent had come apart in the North Westerly gale force winds and whilst attempting to save their tent Rian had turned up out of the blue at their caravan asking them for help.
“The owner of the caravan said that at first they were a bit startled by his sudden arrival out of the dark night and they were rather sceptical but once Rian had explained his situation they immediately jumped into action and helped him into their caravan and began emergency re-warming Rian who was severely hypothermic.
“They managed to get a contact number out of him and they called his family to say that he was ashore and inside their caravan and Rian’s family alerted the NSRI.
“NSRI and CMR (Cape Medical Response) raced to the caravan park where they found Rian wrapped in blankets in the caravan and in a serious state of hypothermia. Paramedics continued emergency re-warming treatment on Riaan and after he was re-warmed he required no further assistance.
“Rian had apparently been knocked off his surf-ski during the sudden gusting squall and he had also lost his paddle. Realising he had no other option he swam for the coastline and on reaching shore he first had to rest and gather his strength before climbing over the rocks and walking up to the caravan park where he was able to find the family at their caravan and ask for their help.
“The surf-ski is adrift in the southern False Bay area and if found it can be handed over to the National Sea Rescue Institute who will give it back to Rian.
“All rescue boats stood down and returned to station and the TMNP rangers, CMR and the family at the caravan park were thanked for their kind assistance.”
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