The crew of NSRI Wilderness Station 23 is singing the praises of four bystanders for their heroic efforts towards saving the life of a drowning man. Brooklyn Boesak (13) Daniel Armoed (41), Louis Lombard (31) and Piet Van Rooyen (48) all played vital roles in the rescue which took place at the rivermouth in Sedgefield in the afternoon of Sunday 26 November 2023.
It was the turning of a high tide rushing out to sea and the current was strong around the estuary. A unidentified male ended up in trouble when swimming about 150m upriver from the mouth. Brooklyn, at the beach with family, noticed the man frantically waving his arms and calling for help. The courageous youngster swam over to try and assist.
But despite great effort, he could not bear the weight of the large man in the water – estimated to have been at least two to three metres deep. As the man sunk again Brooklyn started signaling for help, attracting the attention of Daniel further up the shore.
Daniel realised something serious was up and made his way along the rocky shoreline to the river’s edge as fast as he could on bare feet.
“Waar is hy? Waar is hy?” he asked the exhausted Brooklyn, and dived in as soon as the lad pointed to the spot.
Swimming down he found the man below the surface and tried to pull him out, but he too battled due to the dead weight. Holding his breath, Daniel planted his feet firmly in the riverbed, grabbed the back of the man’s shorts and pushed him up to the surface. From there on he was able to surface himself then, with assistance of Brooklyn begin swimming the man to shore.
Meanwhile, Louis Lombard, a young athlete on holiday from Pretoria, noticed the commotion from further up the beach, and when he heard that someone was potentially drowning he said to himself “I can swim – so maybe I can help!” and sprinted along the riverside to the scene.
As he got there, Daniel and Brooklyn were just managing to drag the man to the edge of the water. Piet van Rooyen had also headed down to help, and between the four of them, they managed to heave the unconscious figure out of the water and onto the rocks.
But the struggle certainly wasn’t over, because there wasn’t the slightest sign of life in the man. Amazingly, though Daniel hadn’t ever had first aid training, he drew from memory of what he’d seen on TV and went into CPR action. He checked for a pulse and, finding nothing, began pumping the man’s chest, stopping every minute or so to administer mouth-to-mouth.
Louis said they all watched in increasing anguish as Daniel continued for about five to eight minutes, checking for a pulse as and when they could.
Suddenly a whole lot of water gushed out the guy’s mouth, and when Daniel felt the man’s neck again he was delighted to feel the faint glimmer of a pulse.
“Hey, there’s something going on here!” he exclaimed happily.
This was when NSRI medics arrived on the scene and took over the resuscitation until the patient was stable. The medics then requested a spinal board so that they, the four rescuers and other members of the public who assisted could carry the man over the very rocky terrain to the stairs and up to the car park to await the Er24 ambulance. When it arrived minutes later, ER24 paramedics stabilised the man further before transporting him to hospital. He arrived in a serious but stable condition and has since made a good recovery.
NSRI Station Commander Mike Vonk met up with the four rescuers at the scene the following evening to offer his appreciation “What an amazing team effort. You guys certainly saved his life!”
(Note from Editor: At time of going to press we were unable to contact the rescued gentleman to acquire permission to publish his name.)