Two fatal drownings in a space of just four days in the Helderberg have been met with shock and sympathy by visitors and locals alike.
In the first incident that occurred last Tuesday (17 January), the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) reported a 20-year-old man lost his life at Strand Beach.
He was later indentified as young father of one and Delft resident Santino Carolus, and was hailed a hero for saving a teen’s life just moments before he went underwater.
According to reports, a 17-year-old boy encountered difficulties while swimming at Strand Beach, and Carolus rushed in to save the teenager but encountered difficulties himself.
“At 14:08 NSRI Gordon’s Bay duty crew were activated following eyewitness reports of two people in difficulties in the surf at Strand Beach,” an NSRI report stated. “City of Cape Town lifeguards launched into the surf and rescued a 17-year-old male to the beach. He was medically assessed by paramedics. NSRI Gordon’s Bay launched the sea rescue craft Zelda in search of the 20-year-old, whose body was spotted underwater on the seabed.”
An NSRI rescue swimmer deployed from the rescue craft recovered the man onto boat. He was brought to the Strand Lifesaving Club, where paramedics applied cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) efforts.
After all efforts to resuscitate the man were exhausted, he was declared dead on the scene and police opened an inquest docket. Carolus is survived by his partner and one-year-old baby.
In the second incident on Saturday (21 January), a Johannesburg man saved the life of a Stellenbosch swimmer at Gordon’s Bay Main Beach. However, the man’s friend who was also in difficulty drowned, despite efforts to save him.
The NSRI said good samaritan JD Siecker and his girlfriend Kim Nast, from Johannesburg, were swimming at 17:00 when they noticed two men in difficulty in the water.
“Siecker managed to pull one man up from underwater and rescue him onto the beach, while Nast had run down the beach to alert lifeguards.”
Alan Meiklejohn, NSRI Gordon’s Bay station commander, said when Siecker returned to assist the second man, he had disappeared under water. “[Siecker] alerted a bystander on the beach, Neal de Wit, who contacted his friend Russel Human of the City’s Disaster Risk Management Directorate, who was off-duty, and the alarm was raised.”
Meiklejohn said the second man’s lifeless body was recovered by a combined team of responders, but efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. The body was taken into the care of Government Health Forensic Pathology Services, and police have opened an inquest docket. The identity of the deceased was not known at the time of going to print.
The NSRI commended Siecker, Nash and De Wit for their rescue efforts.
Meanwhile, with the conclusion of the City’s 2022-’23 Identikidz Project the statistics show more than 125 000 children were tagged over five weekends at 16 participating beaches over the festive season – proof the project grows in stature annually.
At Strand Beach well over 16 000 children were tagged, resulting in more than 100 children being reunited with their families or caregivers.
“Overall, child safety at our beaches was truly well managed this festive season,” said Patricia van der Ross, Mayoral Committee member for Community Services and Health.
“Our Identikidz staff tagged well over 120 000 children and reunited just more than 400 with their caregivers. In terms of water safety, we had no fatal drownings where the victims were children younger than 15.”
She thanked all City staff and departments involved in the project. “The statistics illuminate not only how popular the project is, but also its importance in ensuring the safety of our young beach visitors,” Van der Ross pointed out.
“I also want to thank members of the public who took advantage of the service and encourage others to do the same in future.”