Woman hurt on diving trip

2011-02-22 00:00

A 33-YEAR-OLD woman on holiday from Johannesburg has had to have reconstructive surgery on her face after the boat that she was in capsized during a diving tour on the Umkomaas River on Sunday.

Debbie Pretorius was one of 11 divers on a diving trip with Oceanworx Dive Charters when the boat they were all in capsized.

Tyla du Preez had just arrived at the beach when the accident happened. He immediately raced out to the scene of the incident in his dive duck boat and managed to pull in four of the struggling divers, Pretorius included.

“They were all on the surface and getting crushed by the heavy waves,” Du Preez said.

A heavy wave caused Pretorius to hit her head on the boat. “She was bleeding from the head and she was taken straight to hospital,” said Du Preez.

Pretorius spent a night at Umhlanga hospital and by 2 pm yesterday afternoon had been released.

Her brother, Charl Pretorius, had wanted to go on the diving trip with her, but was unable to do so due to a lack of space.

Charl, who said that he and Debbie would be returning to Johannesburg today if she felt well enough, added that they both felt it was irresponsible of Oceanworx to have taken people out in the rough conditions.

“None of the other dive charters were operating [on Sunday] because of the conditions; Oceanworx even sent out another dive boat to do more tours after the accident had happened,” he said.

“What happened was a result of the big surf and the company [Oceanworx] not following the right safety precautions; of course she is angry.”

Co-owner of Oceanworx, Juan Pereira, dismissed claims that his was the only charter operating on the day.

“That is completely wrong, there were certainly other charters operating at the same time as us,” he said.

“The incident was dealt with and all safety procedures were followed; it is a business and after the incident we did send out more tours.”

Pereira also dismissed claims that the accident was a result of the poor weather conditions, saying that he believed an error in judgment from the skipper to be the main cause.

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