Two teenagers struck by lightning in Germiston Lake regatta
At approximately 17h00, on Saturday, 26 January 2019, during a National rowing regatta at Victoria Lake, Germiston, after the regatta had been called off due to thunderstorms and final packing-up was underway, a male rowing coach, aged 19, and a male learner, aged 14, from a Cape Town school, were struck by lightning, sustaining injuries, reported Gerhard Potgieter, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Gauteng station commander.
NSRI Gauteng and Emergency Care ambulance service, in attendance at the regatta, attended at the scene and ER24 ambulance services and Netcare 911 ambulance services responded. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) efforts commenced on the 19-year-old. The 14-year-old was treated on the scene before being transported to hospital by ambulance in serious but a stable condition. Sadly, despite extensive CPR efforts, the 19 year old male has been declared deceased. The 14 year old is recovering in hospital.
The SA Police Services attended at the scene and the body of the 19 year old has been taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an inquest docket.
The NSRI conveyed condolences to family, friends, colleagues as well as the rowing clubs and school.
Rowing South Africa (RowSA) on their Facebook page said they are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of a lightning strike incident that occurred on Saturday at a regatta at Victoria Lake Club (VLC) at Germiston Lake which resulted in the death of a coach and injury of an athlete. “We wish our rower a speedy recovery and we offer our sincere condolences to the family and club of this special coach, our hearts are with you during this immensely difficult time. “Where appropriate we will communicate further on this incident,” the statement read.
RowSA further added in another post on their Facebook page that in light of the tragic events which led to the death of a member of the rowing community, Rowing South Africa (RowSA) has taken the decision to cancel the remainder of the VLC National Sprints Regatta on Sunday, 27 January 2019. “This difficult decision was taken out of the deepest respect for those affected and in the interests of the broader rowing community,” the post said.
An Emergency Care Medical team assisted at the Victoria Lake club with the regatta. They said, “On completion, as our crew and vehicle was about to leave, members of the public summonsed the medical crew. Our medical team found two of the regatta members that had been struck by lightning. Both patients were assessed and prioritised in accordance with their injuries.”
Following assessment it was determined that the 19-year-old patient required an attempt at resuscitation. Emergency Care medics immediately contacted the control centre and additional assistance was dispatched. Advanced Cardiac Life Support Resuscitation was started on the Priority 0 patient. Members of the National Sea Rescue Institute assisted the medical crew. After approximately an hour of extensive resuscitation the P0 patient was declared deceased.
“Emergency Care wishes their sincere heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and also the rowing fraternity. We would like to express our gratitude to the onsite medical team as well as the team from NSRI Victoria Lake. It is never easy losing a patient,” they said.
The young man who died during a lightning strike at the weekend was a former pupil of Somerset College.
Nicholas "Nick" Whaits, 19, was attending a rowing regatta in Germiston, Gauteng, when he and the rower he coached, was struck by lightning. Whaits is a recent alumnus of Somerset College and matriculated in 2017. Somerset College said he will be remembered as an intelligent, kind and genuine person who took a delight in mentoring younger pupils.
During his long association with Somerset College, he earned the admiration of peers and elders alike for his compassion and commitment, the college said. They said all flags on campus will be flown at half-mast and members of the Somerset College community will wear black armbands as a sign of mourning.
Source: NSRI, Emergency Care, Germiston City News and Cape Argus