Tragedy struck on Sunday 4 February when three young adults – two women and one man – drowned in the Sedgefield Lagoon. Whilst one of the victims was resuscitated and rushed to hospital, she passed away later that night. The other two were sadly already deceased when their bodies were recovered from the water in the early evening.
The names of the deceased have not yet been released, though it has been confirmed all three were locals and that the two ladies were sisters.
The following information was obtained from the report filed by Mike Vonk, the NSRI Wilderness Station Commander.
At 12h30, NSRI Wilderness, ER24 Ambulance Services, NSRI rescue swimmers, an off-duty SA National Parks Ranger, the SA Police Services, WPDS (Water Policing and Diving Services) and Knysna Fire and Rescue Services responded to reports of a drowning in progress in Sedgefield Lagoon
Eyewitnesses had reportedly observed the three victims spending time together in the lagoon a while earlier. When the seemingly lifeless body of one of the females was seen floating in the water, two good Samaritans rushed in to carry her to the bank. Whilst CPR was initiated by SANParks Honorary Ranger Alida Viljoen who happened to be on the scene, the alarm was raised and emergency services summoned.
On arrival, NSRI medics took over CPR efforts, further assisted by an off-duty ER24 paramedic. Hopes were raised when the patient showed signs of life and, when she was reasonably stable though still in a critical condition, she was transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance. There, extensive efforts by medical staff continued.
At that stage the whereabouts of the other two persons remained unknown – there were no leads as to whether they had left the water or not, or even if they were missing. NSRI launched the sea rescue craft Lavinia to begin a search, which, assisted by police divers and other emergency services, included the lagoon and surrounding land. No sign of the two companions was found at that time.
At 18h02 on the same day NSRI Wilderness was alerted that a second body had been discovered floating in the lagoon, near to where the lady had been recovered earlier. NSRI Wilderness, SAPS, a SANParks Ranger, Water Policing and Dive Services, Knysna Fire and Rescue Services, WC Government Health Forensic Pathology Service and WC Government Health EMS were all alerted and responded to the scene.
The body of the adult female was recovered, but sadly declared deceased by the EMS paramedic. Police divers initiated a further search in the immediate area, eventually locating and recovering the body of the adult male beneath the surface of the lagoon.
The bodies of the two deceased were taken into the care of Government Health Forensic Pathology Services and SAPS opened an inquest docket.
The first casualty remained in intensive care in a critical condition until later that night when all efforts to save her life by doctors and nurses were exhausted and she was sadly also declared deceased.
Condolences are conveyed to the family and friends of the three deceased.