8 people rescued as ski-boat capsizes in Shelly Beach surf

NSRI Shelley beach rescued eight people after the ski- boat they were on capsized this morning.
They were taken to the sea rescue base and treated by paramedics. The skipper was transported to hospital by ambulance suffering a laceration to his head and chest pains suspected to be from fractured ribs. He is in a stable condition and he is expected to recover fully.

Mark Harlen, NSRI Shelly Beach station commander, said at 6.52 am, 7 August, volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports from the Shelly Beach small craft harbour control tower of the ski-boat Big Momma capsized by a wave in the surf line with eight men on board

“It appears that the boat capsized while exiting through the surf line to go to sea with a local skipper, a crewman and six passengers believed to be from Gauteng. The skipper is aged in his early 50s, the crewman in his 20s and the passengers are believed to be in their 40s and 50s.

“The incident happened in front of our NSRI Shelly Beach sea rescue base. Our NSRI Shelly Beach volunteer sea rescue duty crew, Police Search and Rescue, Hibiscus Medivac ambulance services and the Kwa-Zulu Natal private ambulance services responded.”

In the chaos of the aftermath, it was initially suspected that two people were missing and a search and rescue operation was initiated. The search was aborted when it was confirmed that everyone was safely ashore. Everyone from the boat was assisted out of the water by locals at the launch site who reacted quickly by swimming and wading into the surf to help. They were all wearing life-jackets.

 Three Gauteng passengers were transported to hospital by ambulance for observation for secondary drowning as a precautionary measure. They are in stable conditions and also expected to recover fully. All the survivors were treated for hypothermia, shock, near drowning symptoms and exhaustion. The crew member and three passengers were released following medical treatment. 

“The damaged boat remains on the beach and will be recovered later. The local charter boat companies and fishermen and bystanders who reacted by swimming and wading into the surf quickly to rescue everyone are commended for their actions this morning,” Harlen adds.

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