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NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following reports of a drowning in progress at Swartvlei, Sedgefield. Additionally NSRI Bakoven duty crew were alerted following eye-witness reports of 2 females that had fallen into the water at Bakoven. Also, the NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty crew were alerted following reports of an injured crewman aboard a fishing trawler. Lastly, our NSRI Gqeberha duty crew were activated to patient evacuate an Indonesian adult male crewman from a fishing trawler on the evening of Monday, 14 March.


Ian Gerber, NSRI Wilderness duty coxswain said:

At the time NSRI Wilderness were conducting a training drowning prevention and water safety orientation event for 90 school children at the NSRI Wilderness Base.

Eye-witnesses reported children from a school group (not related to the training that was happening at NSRI Wilderness) appeared to be caught in a rip current while swimming in the surfline at Swartvlei Beach, Sedgefield.

NSRI Wilderness rescue swimmers responded directly to the scene. Our NSRI rescue vehicle responded and our sea rescue Jetrib was launched.

WC Government Health EMS - rescue squad and ambulance, The EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter, Knysna Fire and Rescue Services, the SA Police Services and ER24 ambulance services responded. The Police Dive Unit were placed on alert.

It appears that a local school group were at the beach when a 12 year old female learner was swept away by a rip current while swimming. Her 12 year old male friend swam after her and he tried to help her.

A 17 year female matric learner, from the same school, who is also a surfer, grabbed the NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy that is stationed at Swartvlei Beach and she swam towards them to assist after a teacher had summoned children to run to fetch the NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy and while teachers raised the alarm alerting NSRI and the emergency services.

The teenager female reached the 12 year old girl and kept her afloat using the rescue buoy as a floatation aid.

A teacher shouted towards the 12 year old boy and indicated to him to swim parallel to the beach to escape the rip current. The boy, being a strong swimmer, swam out of the rip current and he managed to get back to shore safely without assistance.

A German man, who was on the beach at the time with his friend, they had been paragliding. They noticed the commotion and the German man fetched his kite boarding equipment from his car and he launched into the water with kite board under sail and he went to their aid.

The German man reached them while under sail and the teenager was able to hang on to his board, still using the rescue buoy for floatation, and holding on to the 12 year old girl and he sailed his kite board back to the beach with the 2 girls holding onto the kite board.

While NSRI were responding to the scene we were receiving calls from eye-witnesses reporting that a bystander Good Samaritan man had launched into the water on a kite-board and he rescued towed them to the beach using his kite board under sail.

On NSRI and emergency services arriving on the scene the children and the teenager were safely out of the water.

They were assessed by paramedics and treated for mild hypothermia and they were released requiring no further medical attention into the care of their teachers and no further assistance was required.
NSRI commend the German man and the matric teenager for saving the life of the child.

The quick reaction and instructions of the teachers is commended.

Images supplied by: John Dickens

Klaus Heinrich, from Germany who assisted in rescue


David Rosenberg, NSRI Bakoven deputy station commander, said:

NSRI Bakoven rescue swimmers responded and while responding it was confirmed that the girls and 3 men, Good Samaritans who had gone to their aid, were safely out of the water and the 2 girls required medical care.

ER24 ambulance services and WC Government Health EMS were activated.

NSRI medics arriving on the scene initiated medical care. They were assisted by bystanders who were helping on the scene before ER24 paramedics arrived on the scene.

Both patients, a Spanish female, age 18, and a German female, age, 20, were transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance in stable conditions where they are receiving care. They are reportedly on a holiday from abroad.

Eye-witnesses have told NSRI that while Bakoven Beach was fairly busy attention was only drawn to the 2 girls in the water after one began shouting for help.

It appears that they were swept off a rock by waves.

On falling into the water waves bashed them against rocks before they were able to escape to a deeper part in the water, beyond the Bakoven channel.
There they were treading water and realising the injuries that they had sustained they began shouting for help.

3 men, Good Samaritans, rushed into the water and they reached the 2 girls, who were by this stage a good 30 meters outside of the Bakoven channel.

The 3 men started to swim the 2 girls towards the shore noticing that one girl appeared to be losing consciousness.

A female bystander, Good Samaritan, grabbed the NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy that is stationed at Bakoven Beach and she ran along the rocks to a point where she was able to throw the rescue buoy to the 3 men and the 2 girls. They used the rescue buoy as a floatation aid and on getting to the beach other bystanders assisted.

It was at that stage that it was realised the gravity of the situation and the extent of the serious injuries sustained by the 2 girls.

Only one of the 3 men, who saved these girls lives, has been identified and NSRI are hopeful that we can identify the remaining 2 men who swam out and the lady who threw them the rescue buoy.

We commend all who assisted in this incident.


Gerard Jordaan, NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty coxswain, said:

The fishing trawler, at that stage 26 nautical miles from Plettenberg Bay, was making good headway heading towards Plettenberg Bay. They requested medical assistance.

Our duty crew launched the sea rescue craft Leonard Smith and we rendezvoused with the fishing vessel in the Bay.

NSRI medical crew were transferred onboard the fishing vessel and the patient was stabilised before being transferred onto our sea rescue craft.

He was brought to our NSRI rescue base and taken into the care of WC Government Health EMS paramedics and transported by EMS ambulance to hospital in a stable condition.


Justin Erasmus, NSRI Gqeberha station commander, said:

The crewman had suffered an injury onboard while at deep sea fishing grounds and in consultation with MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) and a WC Government Health EMS duty doctor it was deemed necessary for the patient to hospitalised as soon as possible.

The sea rescue craft Spirit of Toft was launched, accompanied by an EC Government Health EMS rescue paramedic, and we rendezvoused with the fishing vessel in Algoa Bay.

The patient was transferred onto our sea rescue craft and brought to our NSRI rescue base and he was transported to hospital by EMS ambulance in a serious but stable condition where he remains in the care of doctors.

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