Family devastated by drowning

2009-10-20 09:55

Johannesburg - The devastated parents of a 9-year-old boy who drowned in the Klip River in Eldorado Park on Sunday, were on the scene when his body was recovered on Monday morning.

Louisa Neethling and her husband, Leon, arrived moments after the body of their son, Gregory, was found.

"I love you, my child, I love you," cried his mother.

Gregory was a Grade 2 pupil at Firethorn Primary School.

Gregory had been walking along the river with his 7-year-old brother, Leslie, and a 13-year-old friend, Damien Dlamini, at about 17:00 on Sunday when he slipped and fell into the water.

Damien tried to save him but couldn't do anything when the river carried Gregory downstream.

Search called off

His uncle, Sebastian Ryan, said on Monday the family was deeply shocked and angry because divers from the Johannesburg emergency services and the police had called off the search for him on Monday night. He was found 10m from where divers had stopped looking for him.

"If only they had kept looking for him for another half hour, they could've found him. The whole family is devastated."

He said the divers called off the search at about 23:00. Officials at the scene also stopped a local lifesaver from diving in and looking for Gregory, he added.

"The light was very poor and the water was so dirty that divers couldn't see anything. For this reason, the search was stopped," said emergency services spokesperson Nana Radebe.

Divers resumed the search at about 07:00 on Monday morning. They found the body at 09:52, about 150m from where he presumably fell into the water.

Radebe said Gregory's body was found about 2m under water, where it had become stuck.

Tears

The boy's mother burst into tears and cried uncontrollably when she arrived at the place where her second youngest child had drowned.

"I want to see my son's body," was all she was able to say before she collapsed in the arms of family members and friends.

She later identified his body.

Desiree Dlamini, Damien's mother, said: "I feel for them. It could've been my child.

"Damien saw how his friend disappeared under the water and it is very difficult for him."

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