Bodies of dad, son found following fishing accident
The bodies of a young boy and his father who drowned in a tragic fishing accident off Beachview in Port Elizabeth on Saturday have been found.
The body of Gert Vermaak, 35, was recovered on Wednesday afternoon in the vicinity of Beachview and the neighbouring Maitlands Beach.
The body of Vermaak’s 10-year-old son Keith was recovered in the surf in the same area early on Monday near where he, his father and another young relative had launched their canoe to go fishing at about 6pm on Saturday.
The canoe is believed to have capsized about an hour later.
Rhodlyn Rademeyer, 16, Vermaak senior’s nephew, spent more than an hour swimming for his life before he made it safely back to shore.
Devastated relatives of the two victims were still in shock late on Wednesday, as they struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.
The Vermaaks were staying in Beachview, while Rhodlyn is from Algoa Park.
National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Craig Lambinon confirmed the recovery of the bodies, and conveyed the NSRI’s condolences to the family.
The NSRI, supported by about 50 members of the public, rescue organisations and chokka boat crews, had been involved in an extensive search for Vermaak and his son since Saturday night’s tragic accident.
Their bodies were taken into the care of Forensic Pathology Services.
Port Elizabeth police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said on Wednesday that the body of the young boy had been found by a guard stationed at the closed Beachview Resort.
The victims launched their canoe from a gully near the entrance to the resort.
“The body of the adult male was found by a couple who were on their way to go fishing in the greater vicinity of the resort,” Janse van Rensburg said.
She said family members had identified the bodies, which would undergo a postmortem as part of the inquest docket police had opened.
Gert Vermaak’s sister, Gerda van Greunen, who had also spent hours through Saturday night and from 4.30am on Sunday morning scouring the area for the pair, said on Wednesday that the family was still traumatised.
“This has been terrible, especially for my mother, who has lost a son and a grandchild and for Gert’s wife, Anika, who lost a husband and a son. Anika is the same age as Gert.
“We have had no Christmas. We have not even felt like handing out presents. It has been terrible. Rhodlyn, who is still young, is fortunately coping OK,” she said.
Compounding the tragedy, according to Van Greunen, was the fact the Vermaaks, having suffered some setbacks and having “lost everything”, had only just got back onto their feet, with both very recently having acquired jobs.
Van Greunen said the funeral arrangements would be decided on during the course of this week.
The tragic accident unfolded when the canoe the three had been fishing from capsized at around 7pm, some distance from the shore.
After Vermaak and Keith “disappeared from view”, the teenager was forced to swim for his life to make it back to shore.