Pier hero saves the day

SELFLESS ACT: Dive instructor Dru Welgemoed, 20, at Hobie Beach yesterday

Man rescued after jumping into sea at Hobie Beach

Risking life and limb to save a man who leapt from the Shark Rock Pier at Hobie Beach, a Port Elizabeth man ran into the choppy surf on Monday afternoon to pull the man to safety.

Pro Dive instructor Dru Welgemoed, 20, of Walmer, said he and a colleague had just returned to the Pro Dive centre near the pier when a man ran in asking for help. It was shortly after 5pm. “This guy ran in and said: ‘please come help, my friend is drowning’,” he said.

Welgemoed, who has basic lifeguard experience and is trained in first aid, ran out and saw the man floating on the left side of the pier.

“He was about 100 to 150m out,” Welgemoed said.

“I ran under the pier and jumped into the water and went with the wave.”

The man, thought to be in his twenties, was floating with his face barely above the water.

Welgemoed said when he reached the man he was gasping and flailing in the water.

“I think he had lost all his energy by then, the sea was very rough,” he said.

“When I got to him I asked him his name.

“I turned him around and got his head on my shoulder before towing him back to shore.”

Once the pair reached the other side of the pier, Welgemoed said the man, whose name he could not remember, was too exhausted to continue on his own so he carried him on his back to a waiting ambulance.

Walmer resident Gert Schoeman, 56, who captured the last few moments of the rescue mission on a video which has since been uploaded on YouTube and Facebook, said he was walking along the beach when he saw an ambulance in the parking lot at Hobie Beach.

“I walked onto the pier and saw people looking down at the water. That’s when I saw the man being rescued,” he said.

Schoeman said witnesses at the scene told him that the man was sitting on the railing on the pier when he suddenly jumped off. Welgemoed, who has been working as an instructor at Pro Drive for six months, said it was the first time he had been involved in this type of rescue.

Pro Dive owner Louis van Aardt, who was with Welgemoed when the incident occurred, said a number of people who witnessed the incident said they saw the man jump off the pier.

Van Aardt congratulated Welgemoed on his valiant effort.

Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha confirmed that an ambulance was dispatched to the scene.

“When the ambulance arrived the guy was still in the water,” Botha said.

“However, a bystander was assisting with the rescue.”

The man was treated for hypothermia in the ambulance before being taken to hospital.

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