Ang­ler was­hed to sea, still mis­sing

Mossel Bay Advertiser - - News -

W­hat was in­ten­ded as an ou­ting for three friends from Ci­vic Park in Mos­sel Bay, tur­ned in­to a har­ro­wing ex­pe­rien­ce w­hen An­dré (Bi­bi) Wit­booi was was­hed off the rocks and di­sap­pea­red in­to the surf ne­ar Da­na Bay.

Se­ar­ches by lo­cals and e­mer­gen­cy wor­kers sin­ce Sa­tur­day, 22 Sep­tem­ber, ha­ve as yet not yiel­ded any in­for­ma­ti­on on his fa­te.

The Na­ti­o­nal Sea Res­cue In­s­ti­tu­te Mos­sel Bay sta­ti­on com­man­der, An­dré Fra­ser, con­fir­med that Wit­booi was swept in­to the sea on Sa­tur­day. Ac­cor­ding to one of Wit­booi's friends, El­vi­kus Olc­kers, the three friends, as u­su­al, went to the co­ast ap­prox­i­ma­te­ly half an hour's walk from Pin­na­cle Point in the di­recti­on of Da­na Bay, to fish.

"W­hen we ar­ri­ved at ap­prox­i­ma­te­ly 13:30, the sea con­di­ti­ons we­re too rough to fish. We de­ci­ded to wait for a whi­le. The­re was a lull in the surf and Bi­bi went to see w­het­her he could find bait. That is w­hen the f­re­ak wa­ve swept o­ver him. We tried w­hat we could; we u­sed our fis­hing po­les to try to re­ach him, but to no a­vail."

Olc­kers and S­haun O­li­fant went to the se­cu­ri­ty sta­ti­on at Pin­na­cle Point to re­port the in­ci­dent. E­mer­gen­cy crews we­re im­me­di­a­te­ly a­ler­ted to as­sist with the se­arch.

Olc­kers said the ex­pe­rien­ce has been very trau­ma­tic. "We ha­ve been very good friends for qui­te so­me ti­me, mo­re so the past few weeks."

At 15:18 on 22 Sep­tem­ber, NSRI Mos­sel Bay du­ty crew we­re acti­va­ted fol­lo­wing re­ports of the ang­ler being swept in­to the sea at the Da­na Bay si­de of Pin­na­cle Point.

The sea res­cue craft, St Blai­ze Res­cu­er, was laun­ched. The NSRI res­cue vehi­cle and the SA Po­li­ce Ser­vi­ces re­spon­ded as well as the We­stern Ca­pe Go­vern­ment He­alth EMS that acti­va­ted the AMS/EMS Sky­med res­cue he­li­cop­ter.

"On ar­ri­val on the sce­ne, a se­arch com­men­ced for a 38-y­e­ar-old lo­cal man. He had di­sap­pea­red in rough surf with fi­ve to six me­t­re b­re­a­king swells and rough sea con­di­ti­ons," NSRI sta­ti­on com­man­der An­dré Fra­ser con­fir­med.

"An ex­ten­si­ve air, sea and sho­re­li­ne se­arch re­vea­led no sign of the mis­sing fis­her­man and the Po­li­ce Di­ve U­nit ar­ri­ved on the sce­ne to ta­ke o­ver an on­going se­arch o­pe­ra­ti­on. Po­li­ce o­pe­ned an in­ves­ti­ga­ti­on.

"Our thoug­hts are with the fa­mi­ly and friends of the mis­sing fis­her­man in t­his dif­fi­cult ti­me."

The chair­man of the Da­na Bay Neig­hbour­hood Wa­tch, Ot­to Ploog (079 414 0481) as­ked the com­mu­ni­ty to re­port any in­for­ma­ti­on as soon as pos­si­ble. The po­li­ce in­ves­ti­ga­ting of­fi­cer is Wo Er­rol Bar­nard (044 606 5600).

Dis­tress fla­re

On T­hurs­day, 20 Sep­tem­ber, NSRI Mos­sel Bay du­ty crew laun­ched the sea res­cue crafts Res­cue 15 and St Blai­ze Res­cu­er fol­lo­wing an eye wit­ness re­port of the ap­pea­ran­ce of a red dis­tress fla­re acti­va­ted at a bo­at at sea, two nau­ti­cal mi­les off Da­na Bay.

The NSRI re­a­ched the bo­at that had four crew on bo­ard but they con­fir­med that they had not set off a dis­tress fla­re and all of their red dis­tress fla­res we­re in­tact and not u­sed.

"We can con­firm that t­his was a fal­se a­larm with good in­ten­ti­ons," the NSRI sta­ted.

P­ho­tos: Ro­sa­lind Do­nald­son van Ton­der

In an un­re­la­ted in­ci­dent t­his pho­to was ta­ken at Da­na Bay on Sa­tur­day. An u­nex­pected wa­ve hits the be­ach, w­he­re a ho­li­day­ma­ker at the bottom of the steps di­sap­pears en­ti­re­ly. For­tu­na­te­ly he was hol­ding the rai­ling and was still the­re w­hen the wa­ve sub­si­ded.

The EMS AMS he­li­cop­ter o­ver Da­na Bay.

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