Komani Karoo Express

Canoe Marathon claims two lives

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A double tragedy took place during the first day of this year’s Canoe Marathon on the Great Fish River near Cradock when two men lost their lives.

The organisers of the marathon have confirmed that 53-year-old paddler, Axel Marggraf from Pretoria, died on Friday, October 8, after falling out of the K-3 canoe in the Soutpandrift rapid, while Dean Chiazzari (31) from Amanzimtoti died of a suspected heart attack after withdrawing from the race.

Colonel Priscilla Naidu of the Eastern Cape Police Media Office confirmed the two deaths and said that Marggraf died at about 11:15 on October 8, when their canoe hit several rocks.  “The deceased fell out of the canoe and allegedly drowned,” she said. 

She also confirmed that Chiazzari had exited the water when he indicated that he was not feeling well and went to lie down in his vehicle.  He was later found dead and an inquest docket was opened.

Fish River Canoe Marathon chairman, Roy Copeman, sent his condolences to the families and friends of the two paddlers and said that the entire paddling community has been shaken by the double tragedy.

“Our safety teams and divers, together with a group of volunteers assisting and seconders at the scene went to great lengths, risking their own lives, to assist in locating and reaching the missing paddler.  The response was fast and effective but sadly they were not able to resuscitate the paddler,” Copeman said.

He praised the race safety personnel who responded quickly to both instances and although the response was fast and effective, they were not able to save

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