World Drowning Prevention Day Good Samaritan Pink Rescue Buoy - NSRI
Photo Credit: National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI)

The Herold’s Bay NSRI Pink Buoy played a vital role in the rescue of a father-daughter duo in distress; this rescue marks 160 lives saved since 2017!


Herold’s Bay, South Africa (24 November 2023) – The NSRI Pink Buoy has been one of those incredible systems that makes South Africa a better place! With the Silly Season upon us, these lifesaving devices will most-likely save many more lives to come.

Recently, there was a rescue of a father and daughter in Herold’s Bay, who were visiting from Sandton, Johannesburg, and got swept up in a rip current. Thanks to several helping hands, they were rescued. Mike Vonk, the NSRI Wilderness station commander, shared their story and thanked everyone who worked together to save the father and daughter’s lives.

“At 15h41, Wednesday, 22 November, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated by eyewitnesses who reported 2 people being pulled out to sea in a rip current at Herold’s Bay, Southern Cape.

At the same time former lifeguard Corne Calitz and Steven Steyn, a local surfer also observed the unfolding emergency, from Dutton’s Cove Restaurant and went to assist.”

According to Vonk, the 11-year-old girl was swept into a rip current and her father went out to attempt to rescue her. He too was swept into the current and both were placed in grave danger.

“Our NSRI Wilderness rescue craft Oscars Rescuer was prepared to be launched from the community-sponsored garage in Herold’s Bay.

NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Center), at the NSRI EOC control room in Milnerton, Cape Town, used the beach safety camera to relay updated information to the responding resources.

Meanwhile, Hartenbos Lifesaving lifeguard Ian Barnard, 18, who was at Herold’s Bay grabbed an NSRI pink rescue buoy, that is stationed at the beach, and he swam out. Reaching the 2 casualties he handed them the pink buoy to aid them to stay afloat, while he attempted to calm them and prevent panic.

Ian admits that the dad, in his panic, had desperately tried to climb onto him, while the girl used the pink buoy to stay afloat.

Realising the grave danger they were all facing in the strong rip currents, Ian had no choice but to retreat away from them knowing that with only the one pink rescue buoy amongst them – when Ian retreated the dad would have no choice but to use the pink buoy, with his daughter, for both of them to stay afloat until additional help arrived.

Ian swam back to the beach where a bystander handed him a second pink rescue buoy (that is also stationed at that beach). Ian ran along rocks to re-enter the water nearer to the casualties.”

As Ian was getting back to land to find a second floatation device, Steven Steyn, 19, and Corne Calitz, 26, arrived with their surfboards to help the father and daughter. Corne reached the father and got him to hold onto the surfboard and then the daughter. With the help of Steven, they paddled the daughter back first as the current was too strong to get both back to shore at the same time.

“Between them they quickly devised a plan that Corne would first paddle back to rescue the daughter, while Steven would wait for assistance with the father holding onto his surfboard.

On arriving on the scene Adam Helling, an NSRI Wilderness rescue swimmer (and Herold’s Bay lifeguard) launched into the water with his personal torpedo rescue buoy.

Ian, with the second pink rescue buoy, and Adam, with his personal rescue buoy, helped Steven and Corne, who were using their surfboards, to get the 2 casualties to shore.”

There were so many people willing to help the father and daughter duo get back to safety.

“Good Samaritan, Tristan van Wyk, 20, from George, had also entered the water. As the 4 rescuers reached the shallows, with the 2 casualties, Tristan had also assisted to aid the 2 casualties out of the water.

By this stage additional NSRI rescue swimmers, and emergency services were arriving on the scene.

The 2 casualties were medically treated on the beach for non-fatal drowning symptoms and exhaustion.”

NSRI commended the swift reactions of Ian, Steven, Corne, Adam and Tristan, who all contributed to lives being saved.

A bystander helped the mom and her two younger children follow behind the ambulance that took the father and daughter to the local hospital. They were treated overnight and are expected to fully recover.

This incident has again highlighted the importance of the NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy programme, launched in 2017, which has contributed to 160 lives saved (that the NSRI knows of). All in-water rescues have been successful and no harm has come to any of the rescuers who have used an NSRI pink rescue buoy to help someone in distress and in danger of drowning.

Sources: NSRI Supplied
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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