Desperate sea rescue bid

2015-03-11 00:00

A 35-YEAR-OLD woman drowned in Port Edward on Monday despite a desperate attempt to save her life. The woman’s family have yet to be informed of her death.

Local fisherman Peter Brereton (57) and novice jet-ski rider Simthembile Bitsha (25) noticed the woman in distress and sprang into action. She was a regular fixture on the beach and was part of the Hibiscus Coast municipal beach clean-up team.

Brereton, who had just caught a Yellowfin Tuna off his jet-ski, was busy packing up on the beach when he noticed a commotion on the beach.

“I immediately relaunched my jet-ski but at that stage I couldn’t see anyone. I then drove towards the rocks and asked Bitsha to jump on. Once we found the body, I gave Bitsha a quick 20-second lesson on operating the jet-ski and jumped to recover the victim,” said Brereton.

The crashing waves knocked over the jet-ski, which floated to the shore while Bitsha hung on and Brereton swam the woman to the beach.

The NSRI said at lunchtime on Monday they were informed that a 35-year-old woman was drowning.

But on arrival they found Brereton already on the beach with the victim conducting CPR.

“NSRI medics took over the CPR efforts and were joined by KZN Private Ambulance Service paramedics. Sadly after all efforts to resuscitate the female … she was declared deceased,” said a statement.

But Brereton believes the woman’s death highlights the need for greater patrolling of the province’s southern beaches.

“There are dangerous currents in Port Edward. This area hosts international and local visitors all year round but the lifeguards are only seasonal. There are several cleaners on the beach every day. We should reallocate some of these funds to train somebody to become a type of flagman, who has an understanding of currents and can at least warn people which areas may or may not be safe,” said Brereton.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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