On Saturday, 1 October, at around 10h00, NSRI Port Alfred were alerted to an incident that had happened at Kelly's Beach where 4 members of a family were rescued with the assistance of 2 Good Samaritans. Additionally, At 16h37, Sunday 02 October, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following multiple eye-witness reports of 2 swimmers, male children, caught in rip currents at Herold’s Bay and additional swimmers reportedly in the water attempting to assist. Also, On Saturday morning, 1 October, NSRI East London responded to West Bank to assist EC Government Health EMS and the SA Police Services at an incident where a fisherman was deceased after reportedly attempting to assist a family member who was in difficulty on the shore line while apparently trying to recover a fish after his fishing line was caught amongst rocks. In addition, On Sunday, 2 October, at 09h56, NSRI Mossel Bay duty crew were activated following reports of a boat capsized off-shore of Groot Brak with 2 local men onboard. Lastly, At 13h52, Sunday, 2 October, A on duty CoCT (City of Cape Town) Lifesaving lifeguard (who is also an NSRI Strandfontein crewman), at Strandfontein Pavilion, noticed a man appearing to be in difficulty in the surf line at Strandfontein Beach and he launched into the water to assist him.
The family were reported to be safely out of the water and they required no further assistance.
Edward Gutsche, 46, a friend of NSRI Port Alfred station commander Juan Pretorius, Ed is a local man who owns a financial company and Nick Laws, 64, a British man, in the film industry, who has been living in South Africas for 18 years (Nick's late wife was a Police Air Wing helicopter pilot).
They recounted to NSRI details of an incident that happened at Kelly's Beach on Saturday.
At around 09h30, while body boarding at Kelly's Beach Edward kept planning this to be the last wave he would catch for the morning before heading home but somehow he kept riding waves until finally it was his last wave and he had exited the water to head towards his car.
A lady and her daughter came running up to him shouting appeals for him to help them - their family members were drowning. Edward looked towards where they were frantically indicating, he saw 4 heads bobbing in the water.
Earlier there had been a number of people on the beach but somehow at this moment it was just the 3 of them on the beach and 4 people in serious trouble in the mid break surf line.
Thinking it would be only moments before other people arrived at the beach who would no doubt alert NSRI Edward, without hesitation put his flippers on his feet and he launched his body to go to their assistance.
By the time he reached the first casualty they appeared to have been separated from each other by about 15 to 30 meters each.
He reached a girl aged about 16. He instructed her to hold onto his body board for floatation and he reassured her he would come back shortly.
He then reached a male child aged about 12. He instructed the child to obey him and let him take him to the body board. The child obeyed and Ed swam him to the body board. That child kept trying to climb onto the body board, using a stern voice Ed showed the child to hold onto the board so both he and his sister could use the board for flotation. Reassuring them he would be back he went after the next casualty.
He then reached a female child aged about 14. As he reached her she disappeared under water.
He dived under water swimming deeper searching for her. He spotted her, she was looking at him. The braids in her hair that he had noticed just before she went under water were floating about her face giving the appearance of an Octopus. She took in a deep breath of water before appearing to be lifeless (or unconscious). Ed grabbed her and pulled her to the surface. Once above water she spluttered, coughed and expired water. To his surprise she was conscious. He reassured her before swimming her back to the body board. He arranged them so that all 3 could use the body board for flotation.
Ed then went in search of the dad. Finding him quite a distance away at the back breakers Ed had to be very stern with him. He was trying to use Ed for flotation.
Ed managed to calm him down before swimming him to his children.
Once they were all together Ed arranged them around the body board and started towing them towards the beach.
Ed admits he was surprised that no one else had reached them by this stage. No one had raised the alarm.
While towing them towards the shore Ed would keep a lookout for incoming waves, warning them of approaching waves, and together they braced themselves around the body board as waves were breaking around them and they all stayed together.
Nick Law had taken a swim when he noticed the drama unfolding out in the surf line.
Nick grabbed the NSRI pink rescue buoy that is stationed at Kelly's Beach and he launched into the surf reaching them at the mid breakers.
It appears that the family saw Nick as a lifeguard (because he had the pink buoy with him). Ed has suggested that on Nick arriving at them appeared to have a huge calming effect.
Although they admit that the pink was not needed Nick swam alongside them ready to use the pink buoy to assist any of the casualties who may have lost a holding on the body board.
Ed's company is the sponsor of that pink rescue buoy at Kelly's Beach.
They were brought safely to the beach where they were reunited with their 2 family members in an emotional reunion.
They were all holding onto each other huddled on the beach.
A member of the beach office seemed to be watching them from the beach office but surprisingly NSRI and emergency services had not been called.
Nick alerted NSRI to the incident. The 2 men watched over the family on the beach before it was evident they needed no further help and NSRI was not required.
The dad hugged Ed and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the intervention.
It is believed that the family may be from Zimbabwe but NSRI has not managed to trace them. We are hoping they see this report and contact NSRI on 0823803800.
Nick, NSRI commend you for going to their aid with the rescue buoy.
Ed, NSRI commend you for this incredible effort that saved 4 lives.
Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness station commander, said:
NSRI rescue swimmers, NSRI medics and WC Government Health EMS responded directly to Herold’s Bay.
At Herold’s Bay, NSRI crew prepared V’s rescuer, stationed at the community donated satellite station, ready to be launched if needed. Additional NSRI crew responded to our NSRI rescue station and dispatched our NSRI rescue vehicle towing a second NSRI rescue craft to Herold’s Bay.
On arrival on the scene, eye-witnesses confirmed that multiple swimmers, including the 2 children who were originally caught in rip currents and at least 6 or 7 bystanders, including off-duty lifeguards who had assisted in the rescue, were all safely out of the water.
NSRI medics, assisted by a doctor who happened to be on the beach, provided medical attention to the casualties until EMS paramedics took over care.
A male teenager (18) was transported to hospital by EMS ambulance in a stable condition and discharged from hospital later that evening.
A male teenager (18) was taken to hospital by private transport and he was released from hospital later.
It appears that 2 male children, believed to be aged 12, were signalling for help while being swept out to sea in rip currents at the middle of Herold’s Bay Beach.
4 public members had launched into the water to assist and 2 of them had retreated out of the water safely, while 2 of them had been swept by rip currents past the 2 children casualties and they both appeared to be in difficulty themselves.
Dale Irvin, from Cape Town, whose family has sponsored the NSRI jet-rib “V's Rescuer”, despite wearing a brace for a healing ankle injury, had grabbed an NSRI pink rescue buoy and a member of the public’s body board and he had launched into the water to assist the casualties.
He had passed the pink rescue buoy over to an off-duty female lifeguard (Abi Olivier aged 17), she was also entering the water to assist. Another off-duty lifeguard, Abre Pio, aged 26, also launched into the water to assist and he took over Abi's pink rescue buoy.
Dale reached one of the casualties (one of the Good Samaritans aged 18 - who had tried to help the 2 children). Abre placed that casualty on the body board and he was swimming him to shore where Abi and other members of the public members had waded into the water to help to bring that man out the water.
Meanwhile Lifeguard, Abre, swimming with the pink rescue buoy, had reached the second casualty (one of the Good Samaritans, aged 18 - he was one of the public members who had attempted to reach the 2 children), he was further out to sea. That teenager was barely conscious.
Using the pink rescue buoy, Abre initiated rescuing that casualty to the shore. A 16-year-old body boarder (Hugo Naude) and another off-duty lifeguard from Mossel Bay, who had also responded, together they assisted Abre to recover that teenager to the beach where public members and the doctor assisted with medical treatment.
After rescuing his casualty to the shoreline, Dale had then returned into the surf armed with the body board and he assisted one the children safely back to shore. The child casualty required no medical treatment.
The other child had also managed to get safely out of the water. We believe he was assisted by a
a 14-year-old female (Jessica) and she had used an NSRI pink rescue buoy to assist that casualty.
NSRI commend everyone involved in this incident. Together these off-duty lifeguards and Good Samaritans contributed to lives being saved.
Geoff McGregor, NSRI East London duty controller, said:
We believe that the deceased man had been washed against rocks. He had been recovered from the water.
The body of the man was taken into the care of Police and Government Health Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an Inquest docket.
Later on Saturday NSRI responded aboard an NSRI rescue craft to assist a young man on the Buffalo River who had capsized in a small rowing boat, a Scull. He was brought safely to shore and his canoe was recovered.
Dawie Zwiegelaar, NSRI Mossel Bay duty coxswain, said:
NSRI Mossel Bay dispatched the sea rescue craft St Blaize Rescuer and Spirit of Safmarine III while NSRI rescue swimmers responded directly to the scene.
On arrival on the scene it was found that a shark research vessel, First Strike, had assisted both casualties and they were safe, not injured and out of danger.
NSRI righted the casualty craft which was recovered and no further assistance was required.
NSRI commend the skipper and crew of First Strike for their assistance.
Nicky Whitehead, NSRI Strandfontein station commander, said:
As he approached the man he noticed the man rolling over unconscious in the breaking surf and the lifeguard signalled to his colleagues on the beach to launch into the water to assist him.
An NSRI Strandfontein rescue swimmer launched into the surf line and on reaching them together they brought the casualty out of the water onto the beach.
Medical attention was provided to the casualty by NSRI and lifeguards and the casualty regained consciousness.
WC Government Health were activated and on their arrival on the scene.
EMS paramedics continued with medical treatment and the man was transported to hospital by EMS ambulance in a stable condition.
The swift response is commended.
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