Drowning at Strand beach

Members of the Strand Surf Lifesaving Club will be at the beach to help keep swimmers safe during the festive season.

Josh Kreft: chairman, Strand Surf Lifesaving Club

Due to the sensational and erroneous reporting via various channels on Friday, I would like to share the incident report from our lifeguards regarding the two bodies which washed ashore in front of Pip’s Place on Strand beach.

I look forward to everyone’s support of our lifeguards this season: Charl Otto, Stephen Jordaan, Birgitt Ouweneel, Enrique Miller, Megan Kreft and Sabrina Wright.

At noon, Sabrina and Birgitt took an injured bird to Strand animal hospital, and returned to base at 12.30pm.

At 1.30pm Stephen went for patrol jog to the restaurant Bens, and then proceeded to pipe before returning to the lifesaving club where he reported the beach to be “all clear”, with no swimmers in distress or in danger.

At 2.18pm, a member of the public notified us of an “issue at the toilets”. Megan and Birgitt responded with radio, first-aid bag, Laerdal mask and torpedo buoys.

They proceeded to run down the beach asking members of the public at each of the toilets along the beach if they had seen anyone in distress or requiring assistance – various members of the public near Bens reported that they had seen no swimmers needing assistance.

The two girls proceeded further down the beach where a crowd was spotted at Pip’s Place with Gordon’s Bay Rescue, the NSRI and the SAPS on scene.

Two bodies had already been declared dead and covered with towels. The two lifeguards helped with crowd control and moving of the bodies closer to the ambulance. No further information was provided by the responders. A police officer informed Megan and Birgitt that their assistance was no longer required, and were requested to return to the lifesaving club.

Upon returning to the club at 3.15pm, the two lifeguards noticed an off- duty lifeguard assisting a girl out the water approximately 100m from the initial incident scene.

They carried the 15-year-old girl above the high water mark and placed her in recovery position. Her friend, who smelt of alcohol, informed the lifeguards that she has asthma, and we instructed her to fetch her reliever pump.

While Megan stayed with the girl, Birgitt proceeded to the paramedics at the previous scene to ask for help.

Stephen arrived to assist with crowd control while Birgitt and the paramedics arrived back; within this time, the girl had taken two puffs of her reliever and was stable. The paramedics declared her fit to go and advised the casualty to go home.

Megan, Birgitt and Stephen proceeded back to the lifesaving club. At 3.40pm they arrived back, and at 4pm, Clive from NSRI called over channel 77 requesting assistance at the original scene to keep swimmers out of the incident area.

At 4.45pm rotation of duty was requested, and at 5.15pm, four lifeguards assisted with crowd control while the bodies were removed from the beach by forensic pathologists.

There was a lack of eye witnesses and coherent information from the public. Sergeant May was the police officer in charge at the scene.

The conditions were calm with only a small rip forming to the right of the lifesaving club with little to no swell and a westerly wind. High tide was at 10am and low tide at 4.30pm.

Birgitt led a debrief after duty with Jos, Shandor, Megan, Stephen, Sabrina, Charl and Enrique.

Please also see corrected link to the NSRI statement: www.nsri.org.za/2016/12/2-drown-at-stand-beach-and-person-with-asthma-assisted/

Josh Kreft is the chairman of Strand Surf Lifesaving Club.