AN elderly fisherman was swept off Port Alfred’s West Pier and drowned early yesterday.
The man, identified as Terry Henry from Johannesburg, was fishing alone on the pier, surrounded by high swells.
NSRI Port Alfred station commander Juan Pretorius said a rescue team was activated just after 7.30am after receiving reports of a man being washed off the pier and carried out to sea.
NSRI volunteers aboard the sea rescue craft Arthur Scales braved 4m breaking swells,and found the man floating face down in the water just off East Beach.
Pretorius said Henry had been swept through the river mouth and around East Pier by strong rip currents.
The SA Police Force and Gardmed ambulance services also responded.
“The man was recovered onto our sea rescue boat and our NSRI medics commenced Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR),” said Pretorius.
A local doctor, Leon Nell, who happened to be there at the time, also assisted with CPR on-scene.
The victim was taken to hospital by Gardmed and CPR continued in the ambulance en-route to hospital, said Pretorius.
But at the hospital doctors declared the man dead.
Police have opened an inquest docket.
In the wake of the incident, and renewed criticism about the derelict state of safety rails on the West Pier, Ndlambe’s deputy director of community protection services Fanie Fouche issued a statement.
“Ndlambe municipality sends out their condolences to the family of the gentleman that lost his life in the Kowie river mouth on Tuesday,” said Fouche.
He said the issue of ownership of the pier had still not been resolved, but the municipality had been “proactive” and approached the Department of Environmental Affairs and its Working for the Coast implementer to assist with the repair of the railings.
Ward 10 councillor Ross Purdon told TotT an amount of R50 000 has been granted for the job.
Working for the Coast would also replace all warning signage in the West Beach area, said Fouche.