Angler washed to sea, still missing
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).
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.
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.