Dramatic rescue at rapid

2011-02-19 00:00

THE brother of Dusi great John Edmonds almost drowned when he was trapped underwater at the notorious Ntombi Rapids yesterday.

Edmonds (55) was in a double canoe with Nicky Taylor.

He was trapped after he had miscalculated his move to beat the huge Pinnacle rock that parts the Ndusi’s flow in the rapids.

He scraped over the rock and the current spun them around, causing their K2 canoe to capsize.

Edmonds said he was thrown out of the boat and he could not swim against the powerful eddies behind formed by the Pinnacle.

“I only remember going over the huge rock and the next thing I was thrown up and under the water several times and I lost consciousness.

“When I regained consciousness I was out of the river and taken by a helicopter to the medical tent at the finishing line,” said Edmonds.

He was not allowed to continue with today’s final leg.

He later learned that a K1 paddler, Chester Forster, had pulled his unconscious body out of the water.

Forster could not be reached for comment. Edmonds was treated for severe shock and was advised to go for a check-up late yesterday afternoon.

He said his partner, Taylor, who did not want to talk to Weekend Witness, managed to hang on to the canoe and pulled it out of the river.

It was Edmonds’s 31st Dusi.

Paddler Dave McKenzie, whose canoe broke below Washing Machine Rapids at the confluence of the Umgeni and Msunduzi rivers, saw the paddlers struggling at Ntombi.

“At Ntombi Rapids I had to stop to clear water from my canoe and in the 10 or so minutes of stopping I observed one in six paddlers being able to make it through without taking a swim.”

Fred Deyzel had to be treated after he fell face down at Ibis Point portage. He said a canoeist fell in front of him and his canoe hit his leg and he also fell. He suffered minor cuts above the left eye and nose, but he was allowed to continue with the race to the end.

Dusi spokesperson Ray de Vries said petrol for seconds’ vehicles was still their main concern and by late afternoon they were looking at ways to beat the shortage.

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