Dusi to probe deeper

2015-02-23 00:00

DUSI Canoe Marathon organisers ­intend on visiting the site near Big Bend Rapid where paddler Heini Jordaan drowned last Friday.

Jordaan was in the G batch of K2 ­(canoes with two paddlers) with his partner and fellow Stella Canoe Club paddler Neels Meyer when their boat hit a rock.

Weekend Witness reported on Saturday that paddlers rallied together to assist Jordaan and Meyer, who managed to get out of the canoe and was ­trying to pull his friend free, after Jordaan’s foot became trapped ­between rocks.

Fellow contestants also notified a paramedic just downstream of the accident, which occurred about seven kilometres from the Inanda dam. One of them managed to attract the attention of a safety helicopter.

The terrain made landing the helicopter impossible and a second, smaller helicopter was dispatched, together with the race’s medical helicopter.

Yesterday, general manager of the race Brett Austen-Smith said the organisers already had one debriefing session with members of the South African Police Services, the navy and their medical team to discuss the accident.

“We will also be visiting the site to see whether something more could have been done to prevent this tragedy,” he added.

This is the fourth death in the Dusi’s 64-year history, and two of those, Austen-Smith said, were not race-related.

“We have a really good track good … and I think that the preparations and precautions that we take have been up to standard,” he said.

“But we will be looking at everything to make sure that we are happy with the actions that were taken.”

Before the start of the final stage of the race on Saturday, the leading men and women paddlers donned black armbands as a tribute to Jordaan, who was doing his 19th Dusi. The organisers also had a moment’s silence for him during the prize-giving ceremony.

Jordaan, a popular dentist who ­practised in Overport, Durban, completed his matric in 1975, and the following year, went on to study at Stellenbosch University.

He qualified five years later, having received the prize for the best student in aesthetic crown and bridge work. After two years working as a dentist in the defence force, Jordaan opened his own practice.

When not working, Jordaan, a self-confessed sports fanatic who loved paddling, swimming and cycling, could be found on his farm in Fouriesberg.

He leaves his wife, Margie, and three sons, Erich, Richardt and Cameron.

Chairperson of the race organising committee Cameron Mackenzie, who has been liaising closely with the family, said they were still too traumatised by Jordaan’s death to speak to the press.

• arts@witness.co.za

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