Stephen Slade, NSRI Port Alfred deputy station commander, said:
At 17h00, Friday, 23rd December, NSRI Port Alfred duty crew were activated following eye-witness reports of a drowning in progress at the Bushmans River Mouth, between Alexandria and Port Alfred, 25km from our Port Alfred sea rescue station.
We dispatched our NSRI rescue swimmers in a private vehicle, our sea rescue vehicle towing our sea rescue craft and the EC Government Health EMS, Guardmed ambulance services and the Environmental Beach office responded.
On arrival on the scene all persons were out of the water and a 36 year old male (casualty), from Alexandria, visiting the beach for the day with family, was found to be suffering from exhaustion and from non-fatal drowning symptoms and he was treated by paramedics and transported to hospital for observation for secondary drowning.
A female aged 12, the daughter of the casualty, who had reportedly also been in the water and who is believed to have also been in some difficulty in rip currents, is believed to have been able to get out of the surf unassisted and she was checked by paramedics but released after it was established that she was not injured.
It has emerged that the van Wyk family, visiting on a holiday from their farm near to Lichtenberg in the North West Province, had noticed a commotion along the shoreline, near to rocks, near to the river mouth and they noticed a man in difficulty in the surf.
Martie van Wyk and her 19 year old son Armand van Wyk ran towards the shoreline to see what was going on and Armand launched into the surf and swam out to the casualty and caught in strong currents he assisted the casualty to stay afloat while calming the casualty.
As waves broached over them the casualty tried to hold onto Armand but Armand was able to avoid his grasp and gently nudged the casualty towards the shore while continuing to motivate the casualty to stay afloat by treading water and helping the casualty to negotiate through the waves.
An unidentified man, believed to be aged in his late 20’s, then launched into the surf with a body board and arriving at the casualty he gave his body board to the casualty to use to stay afloat.
Armand told this unidentified man, who had also come out to help, that he was okay and that he was able to swim and together they were able to bring the casualty safely to the shoreline.
Paramedics treated the casualty for exhaustion and for non-fatal drowning symptoms before transporting him to hospital in a stable condition.
Martie, Armand’s mom, who had also waded into the surf to try to help said that while they are very proud of her sons actions she hoped they would never be faced with an ordeal like this again.
NSRI commend the actions of Nicholas Abraham “Armand” van Wyk and the unidentified man with the body board for their actions in saving a life today.