Extensive search for missing swimmer at Herold's Bay
Despite efforts by local swimmers, surfers and emergency services to save a man who got into trouble in the sea at Herold’s Bay on Saturday, 13 November 2021, the man disappeared under the water and is still missing. National Sea Rescue Institute’s (NSRI) Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness deputy station commander, said, “At 11h15 on Saturday, 13 November 2021, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated by NSRI's Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) following multiple eye-witness reports of a drowning in progress at Herold’s Bay. Two local bystanders and a surfer had entered the water in an effort to assist a male, aged in his 20s, from Gqeberha, who was being swept out to sea caught in a rip current.”
Local man Rennie Pringle was running towards the water to enter the water to go to assist when he was handed an NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy that is stationed at that beach, by a young local girl and Dave Cammachie, wearing flippers and using his body board, together with a local unidentified surfer on his surfboard, together they swam after the man in an effort to save him but before they reached him the casualty disappeared under water.
Other local surfers had also reacted and they joined the search efforts.
Herold’s Bay community members, trained in preparing the sea rescue craft Oscars Rescuer, stationed at Herold’s Bay in a community funded container, prepared the sea rescue craft to be launched while NSRI crew and NSRI Rescue swimmers responded to the scene.
The sea rescue craft Ann Stratford was towed to the scene from the NSRI Wilderness sea rescue base.
Both sea rescue craft were launched and they commenced a search while NSRI Mossel Bay, at sea at the time conducting routine training exercises, diverted their sea rescue craft St Blaize Rescuer, which joined in the search.
The South African Police Services, WC Government Health EMS, George Fire and Rescue Services and George Traffic Services responded.
An extensive sea and shoreline search continued.
Two NSRI rescue swimmers were deployed into the water from the sea rescue craft St Blaize Rescuer and they conducted free dive search efforts.
During the search NSRI became aware of an Indwe Aviation, Titan Helicopters, Sikorski S-61 helicopter, in the air at the time, returning to George International Airport from the Dana Bay vicinity.
NSRI Mossel Bay contacted George Air Traffic Control who appealed to the pilot to assist with the search and the helicopter captain obliged and the helicopter joined the search efforts. Despite an extensive air, sea and shoreline search there remains no sign of the missing man.
Police have opened an investigation.
NSRI Wilderness and George Fire and rRescue Services assisted the Police Dive Unit in their ongoing search.
Rennie Pringle, Dave Cammachie and the local surfers are commended for their efforts to try to save the man.