Saturday and Sunday, 28 and 29 January 2012 saw local Port Elizabeth NSRI save a man from drowning rescue a man swept overboard during a yacht race, successfully resuscitate one man and one man is missing following drowning.
Justin Erasmus, NSRI Port Elizabeth deputy station commander, said; “At 08h25 on Saturday 28 January, NSRI Port Elizabeth volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports from Coastal Rescue of a man being swept out to sea at Brighton Beach, North of Port Elizabeth.
“Our NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Boardwalk Rescuer and the SA Police Force and our NSRI rescue vehicle and EC Government Health: EMS responded to join lifeguards at the beach who had initiated a rescue.
“On arrival on-scene Police Warrant Officer Coetzee, a Police patrol officer of the Mount Rhodes Police Station, swam out and reached the victim, 26 year old Bradley van Wyk, from Bloemendal, Port Elizabeth, and began to swim him towards the shore.
“2 Metro lifeguards reached them in the surf and took over from W/O Coetzee assisting the victim while W/O Coetzee swam back to shore.
“Our sea rescue craft reached the lifeguards and the victim and all three were taken onboard our sea rescue craft and they were brought ashore.
“Paramedics treated the patient for near drowning symptoms and he was transported to hospital in a stable condition.
“At 11h50 on Sunday 29 January, NSRI Port Elizabeth volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority to reports of yacht Jelly Baby experiencing a broken rudder and unable to steer off-shore of Port Elizabeth.
“Our sea rescue craft Spirit of Toft was launched and during the response the skipper of Jelly Baby reported a man overboard.
“It appears that when Jelly Baby suffered steering failure the mainsail boom suddenly swung around in the wind knocking a crewman, Darren Kretchmann, overboard but the skipper, Sean Wiseman, was unable to turn the yacht around to try to save him because of the steering failure. (Editor’s Notes: the rudder had snapped off at the waterline rendering the skipper unable to use it for immediate direction changes)
“Another yacht that was nearby at the time, Lady, saw the crewman being knocked overboard and they went to his rescue but the elderly skipper of Lady and his two female crew were not able to lift Darren Kretchmann onboard so they just hung onto him over the side of the yacht.
“While this was happening NSRI rescue craft Spirit of Toft had reached Jelly Baby but a miscommunication saw the skipper of Jelly Baby report that his overboard crewman had been rescued safely by Lady and was safe, since neither Jelly Baby nor NSRI were aware that the crew on Lady were still struggling to get Darren onboard.
“When it became clear that Lady were in a predicament and unable to get the casualty onto their yacht NSRI left Jelly Baby to go and help at Lady but fortunately by the time NSRI arrived at Lady they had managed to get Darren onboard.
“Darren was suffering hypothermia, shock, near drowning symptoms and exhaustion and he was treated on Lady who then brought him into Port Elizabeths Port where he was transferred into a Guardmed ambulance and transported to hospital in a stable condition.
“Jelly Baby was towed by NSRI to Port safely.
“At 16h30 on Sunday 29 January, NSRI Port Elizabeth volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports from the Beach Office at Kings Beach of a drowning in progress.
“NSRI towed our sea rescue craft Boardwalk Rescuer to be launched on scene and Guardmed ambulance service responded to join Metro lifeguards and Kings Beach lifeguards who were swimming out to rescue 3 people being swept out to sea.
“Lifeguards rescued a father and his son who were not injured and then rescued a Johannesburg male, aged in his late 20’s, Patrick Mashaba, who was unconscious and not breathing when lifeguards brought him through the surf onto the beach.
“Paramedics successfully resuscitated the man and stabilized him but the man then expressed concerned for his friend who he claimed had also been in the water with him and was now missing.
“An extensive search commenced for the missing man and a Police dive unit joined in the search but by last light no sign of the Johannesburg man could be found and he is missing and he is presumed to have drowned.
“Patrick was transported to hospital in a stable condition by ambulance. A Police dive unit will resume the search today for the missing man. Police have opened an inquest docket.”