Today, Saturday 29 August, Alexander Swanepoel was honoured for his bravery in risking his life to save his brother Caleb during the shark encounter at Buffalo Bay. Your courage and selfless act saved Caleb’s life. Well done. NSRI’s Mike Elliot and Jerome Simonis visited the family at their home today to present the award.
The citation reads as follows:
“The Directors’ Thanks are accorded to Alexander Swanepoel for his prompt and courageous conduct on Saturday, 27 June 2015, when he went to the aid of his brother bitten by a shark.
That afternoon, whilst body surfing with his brothers, Caleb and Joshua, he saw a dark shadow below him. Immediately realising that it was a shark, Alexander shouted a warning to his brothers. Seconds later he noticed that Caleb was no longer swimming next to him. He had been bitten by the shark.
Without hesitating, Alexander responded to his brother’s shout for help. He swam back to Caleb, grabbed him by his wetsuit and started pulling him back to shore. It was a swim of about 80 metres but before he could get into the wave line, the shark had circled twice, bumped him and again bit Caleb. Alexander pushed his foot towards the shark to try and scare it off, and it bit his fin.
Using a wave Alexander swam with everything that he had, pulling Caleb into the shallows where their mother, Tracy, was waiting to help them.
The bite had amputated Caleb’s right leg above the knee and his left leg had been lacerated.
While surfers, who had seen the commotion, ran for the shark bite kit and oxygen that they knew was kept at the Buffalo Bay shop, Alexander and their mother kept Caleb calm.
Thinking fast, Alexander asked a fisherman for his belt, and fastened it as tight as he could around Caleb’s stump, improvising an effective tourniquet. There was no panic.
The Directors of the National Sea Rescue Institute applaud Alexander Swanepoel’s altruistic, brave and cool-headed actions in this dangerous situation. His immediate response to help his brother when bitten, despite the obvious danger to himself, and his quick thinking in using a belt to fashion a tourniquet, saved Caleb Swanepoel’s life.
We salute him. Congratulations.”