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On June 3rd, local fishermen Buchanan Breytenbach and Shorts Richardson heroically saved a man swept off the St Francis harbour wall by a massive wave. Their quick actions, supported by the NSRI, prevented a tragedy.

At 1:28 PM, the NSRI Francis Bay duty crew was activated following reports of a man in his 40s being washed off the harbour wall and into the port. The escalating weather conditions and the Spring Tide had made the sea particularly treacherous. Local fishermen, who were preparing their Chokka fishing boat for the season, immediately noticed the man's peril and sprang into action.

Buchanan Breytenbach, one of the fishermen, initially ran to get a nearby life ring. However, upon seeing the man slipping underwater, he knew there was no time to lose. Shouting to his shore skipper, Shorts Richardson, to grab the life ring, Breytenbach quickly abandoned his jersey and gum boots and leapt into the water.

Breytenbach swam towards the struggling man and managed to get his arm under the man's shoulder, preventing him from submerging again. Meanwhile, Richardson threw a rope towards them, all the while shouting instructions that aided in the rescue. Breytenbach grabbed the rope and instructed the man to hold on as Richardson pulled them towards their Chokka boat, which had taken some damage from the heavy seas and storms. Once alongside the boat, Richardson helped pull both men to safety.

Sara Smith, NSRI St Francis Bay station commander, was among the first responders on the scene. "I work upstairs at the Port of St Francis, so I was first on-scene, where I found that they had safely got the man out of the water," she said. The rescued man was treated for non-fatal drowning symptoms and hypothermia. After being checked by paramedics, he declined transportation to the hospital.

"NSRI commends good samaritans Buchanan Breytenbach and Shorts Richardson for their actions that saved the man’s life. The swift response of NSRI and Relay ambulance services is also commended," said NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

The NSRI urges everyone to keep safety in mind and be aware of the new moon’s Spring Tide phase, which can lead to rough seas around the coastline. Always stay vigilant, and in case of an emergency, contact the NSRI emergency operations centre immediately.

- Herman Eloff

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