Rip tide tragedy

2011-02-24 00:00

A DAY on the beach for a Mooi River family turned to tragedy yesterday as yet another life was lost on the South Coast.

Cattle farmer Graeme Paxton (70) was swimming in the sea at Southport beach at around 10 am with two of his relatives — believed to be his wife and sister — when he was caught in a rip tide and drowned.

The family were on holiday.

The rip tide swept Paxton out to sea. His wife also began to battle in the water.

Johan Scholtz, who was working at the Captain’s Anchor pub and restaurant nearby, said that a woman (believed to be family member of Paxton’s) ran to the restaurant telling people that her relatives were drowning.

Scholtz ran down to the beach and dived into the water in an attempt to save the two struggling swimmers.

“I managed to pull the lady to the shore and then went in after the man,” said Scholtz.

“But I was unable to get to him and I was washed up on to the shore.”

Police officers Sergeant Xolani Mbili and Inspector Mark Perrins were called to the scene.

They rushed into the sea and eventually managed to bring Paxton back to shore.

“The man was clearly struggling in the water,” said Perrins.

“We got him, but then a second rip tide took him back out and we had to start over again; it’s just a pity that nobody was here to help when it happened.”

Family members looked on as Netcare 911, KZN Private Ambulance and EMRS paramedics tried in vain for over 50 minutes to resuscitate Paxton.

Scholtz raised concerns as to why there were no lifeguards present.

The beach has lifeguards only on weekends and during the holiday season.

“This is not the first time that people have come to the beach to swim this week,” he said.

“They are ratepaying citizens and they need lifeguards here to protect them.”

Gordon Phipps, who is also from Mooi River, knew Paxton and said the news of his death came as an extreme shock.

“He was really a fantastic guy and very down to earth,” he said.

“You always knew where you stood with him.”

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