Ricochet News

Woman drowns as children forced her underwater in panic at Port Alfred beach

Jan 5, 2018
Woman drowns as children forced her underwater in panic at Port Alfred beach

A 21-year-old woman lost her life after six children she was swimming with clung to her and forced her head underwater after they suddenly found themselves in deeper waters at a Port Alfred beach on Thursday afternoon.

According to Juan Pretorius, the National Sea Rescue Institute's (NSRI) Port Alfred station commander, at 12h16, Thursday, the NSRI Port Alfred duty crew were activated following reports of a multiple drowning in progress near to Kiddies Beach on the Kowie River.

"NSRI Port Alfred, Multi Security, the SA Police Services, Ndlambe Fire and Rescue Services, Ndlambe Environmental Control rangers, Holistic ambulance services, Gardmed ambulance services and EC Government Health EMS responded," he described.

"On arrival on the scene, six children, believed to be aged between 7 and 14, and a 21-year-old female, all from Bathurst and some believed to be related, were already out of the water and bystanders were providing medical assistance.

"CPR efforts by NSRI and paramedics were conducted on the 21 year old female but sadly after all efforts were exhausted she has been declared deceased."

Pretorius said that children were transported to hospital by Holistic and by Gardmed ambulances in serious but stable conditions and one child was transported to hospital by ambulance in a critical condition and that child will be airlifted to a Port Elizabeth hospital from the Port Alfred hospital.

"The Forensic Pathology Services took the deceased body into their care and an inquest docket will be opened by Police.

"It appears that the group of children and the adult were swimming at a sand bank in the Kowie River, the sand bank, near to Kiddies Beach, is known for being able to stand waist deep in the middle of the river," Pretorius said.

"Unfortunately the Full Moon Spring Tide, still in effect at present, appears to have led them to wade on this sand bank to an area further along the sand bank and deeper than expected (because of the high Spring tide) and suddenly all seven persons were out of their depth and according to eye-witnesses the children, some who appeared unable to swim, were grabbing onto the adult and in doing so they were forcing her head underwater and she disappeared under water.

"Bystanders raised the alarm and leapt in to assist and were able to rescue the 6 children and then searched to find the young adult underwater and getting her to shore as well."

The NSRI commended a Multi Security officer, who had witnessed the incident and leapt into the water to rescue the casualties and to the two men from Royal Alfred Marina and staff at Outdoor Focus and the other unidentified bystanders, who assisted.

"Your efforts contributed to saving the children’s lives."