NSRI Wilderness duty crew were alerted to reports of a truck that left the roadway at a low lying bridge on the Karatara River, Karatara Road, Karatara, inland of Sedgefield, with the truck reportedly trapped in rapid flowing water. AND On Saturday, 25 June, at 16h17, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following reports from an employee of Kaaimans River Adventures of 3 men trapped near to a waterfall on the Swart River, Wilderness.
Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness station commander, said:
WC Government Health EMS ambulance and rescue squad, Knysna Fire and Rescue Services, SA Police Services, Traffic Services and the Police Dive Unit were responding.
At 13h02 our NSRI duty crew were activated following a request for swift water rescue assistance after it was confirmed that a truck with a male driver onboard was in the vehicle which was trapped in the river.
NSRI swift water rescue swimmers responded directly towards the scene and our NSRI rescue vehicle, towing our sea rescue craft Oscars Rescuer, responded.
While NSRI were responding towards the scene we were notified that an EMS rescue squad, with swift water rescue technicians, and Police divers had reached the vehicle, in rapidly flowing water, and they were extracting the driver from the vehicle.
On NSRI arriving on the scene the EMS swift water rescue technicians and Police divers were bringing the casualty to safety.
NSRI commend all emergency services involved for the successful rescue operation.
The driver of the truck was not injured.
We believe that a specialised vehicle recovery team have recovered the truck from the water.
It appears that a football team from Cape Town had paddled upstream on the Swart River, from the confluence of the Kaaimans River, on a number of paddle craft and rowing boats.
All but one of the craft had returned to their accommodation where the men were staying on the river, but the last craft, with 4 of the male soccer players onboard, had capsized at the waterfall.
Only 1 of the 4 men was wearing a life-jacket.
We believe that 2 of the men were able to swim to shore, but one man needed to be rescued by the man who was wearing the life-jacket. He was able to swim his friend across the river to the opposite bank, but they were all trapped on the shore, surrounded by steep cliff faces, and all 4 were suffering hypothermia. Fearing an attempt for all 4 men to try to swim down the river may lead to further injury, one of the four men volunteered to use the life jacket and attempt to swim a distance of nearly 500 meters, in the freezing water temperatures, to seek help. The man was able to cross the river and he found Kaaimans River Adventures, further downstream, where he raised the alarm. The kayaking instructor of Kaaimans River Adventures launched a craft and while he paddled to go to the help of the 3 remaining men, his colleague called NSRI Wilderness. We launched the NSRI rescue craft Ann Stratford Rescuer and planned to enter the Kaaimans river from the mouth to respond upstream while our NSRI rescue vehicle towed the NSRI rescue craft Oscars Rescuer to be launched further up the river.
On arrival on the scene we found that the kayaking instructor of Kaaimans River Adventures had rescued the 3 men to safety and NSRI medics treated all 4 for hypothermia and they required no further assistance.
NSRI appeal to paddlers, boaters and sailors to always wear a properly fitting life-jacket when your craft is underway.
NSRI commend the staff of Kaaimans River Adventures for raising the alarm and the swift response in successfully rescuing the 3 remaining casualties.
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