Dorian Robertson, NSRI Richards Bay station commander, said; “On 19 April at 08h43 NSRI Richards Bay volunteers were activated following reports of a commercial fishing boat capsized with 8 fishermen onboard off-shore of St Lucia on the Kwa-Zulu Natal North Coast (North of Richards Bay).
It was confirmed by KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife rangers, who reached the scene shortly after the incident occurred, that 1 person is confirmed missing, 1 person is confirmed deceased, and who is already on the beach, 2 persons were not injured and 4 persons had been taken off the beach by locals and by a local tour company whose members are trained in advanced first aid and by members of the St Lucia ski-boat club who had also responded to the scene to assist. The 4 fishermen were taken to a parking lot at the beach and of the 4 fishermen injured are the skipper, suffering both hands fractured, a fractured leg and suspected fractured ribs, and three crewman, suffering bruises, suspected fractures and one complaining of back pain.
All 4 injured fishermen were stabilized on-scene at the parking area by Netcare 911 paramedics and transported to a hospital in Richards Bay in Netcare 911 ambulances in stable conditions.
NSRI Richards Bay volunteers responded to the scene in our NSRI sea rescue 4×4 vehicle, and a Transnet National Ports Authority rescue helicopter, accompanied by an NSRI rescue swimmer, responded from the Port of Richards Bay. The SA Police Services and the St Lucia Traffic Services responded to the scene, to join KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife rangers that were already on-scene and Netcare 911 ambulance service, from Richards Bay, and a local ambulance service, Cassevac ambulance service, also responded.
While responding to the scene reports were received of a horse rider fallen from his horse and the local tour operators and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife rangers were dispatched to that incident, at the St Lucia Estuary, finding the horse rider to be concussed and semi conscious.
The horseman, a local, was treated by Berno Phillipson, of Advantage Tours, (St Lucia), for concussion before being handed into the care of an arriving Cassevac ambulance service, whose paramedics stabilized the patient, and he has been transported to a Richards Bay hospital in a Cassevac ambulance in a stable condition.
On our NSRI Richards Bay volunteers arrival in the area we dispatched NSRI members to begin assisting the Police, the Traffic Department, Wildlife rangers and a large group of the local community with a shore search for the missing man (from the boat incident) and NSRI members were dispatched to the horse rider (scene) while an extensive air search was conducted by the Ports Authority rescue helicopter for the missing fisherman.
Sea conditions of 3 to 4 meter breaking surf and a light South Easterly wind are prevailing in the area and no sign of the missing fisherman has been found.
According to Berno Phillipson, of Advantage Tours, the fishing boat, an 8.3 meter Butt-Cat, was launching to go to sea nearing the back breaker-line when she was hit by a wave head on breaking off the front consol of the boat, which is believed to have caused the extensive injuries to the crew, and a second wave then hit the boat sending all 8 fishermen into the surf before the boat capsized.
The capsized boat washed ashore onto the beach and has been removed from the beach.
The skipper of the boat is from St Lucia and the 7 crewman, including the deceased man and the missing man, are from Dukuduku.
The body of the deceased fisherman has been handed into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services.
Police and locals are continuing an ongoing search for the missing fisherman and Police have opened an inquest docket into the incident.”