Christopher Barnard, a grade 10 learner at Helpmekaar College in Johannesburg, died on Tuesday during the family’s holiday in Vleesbaai.
According to Craig Lambinon, spokesperson for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), the NSRI’s team in Mossel Bay was called to Fransmanshoek in Vleesbaai at around 10:00 in the morning. The police and Western Cape emergency services also responded to the call for help.
According to Lambinon, a 47-year-old man was fishing with his 16-year-old son when they fell off the rocks and were swept away by the sea.
It is understood that it was Christopher who was knocked off the rocks by the waves. His father dived in to save his son, but ended up in trouble himself.
“When the emergency services arrived, a search was immediately launched on the coast and in the sea. The father was found where he himself came out of the water. He was handed over to the care of the police and the NSRI. The father did not sustain any injuries.”
The search for the teenager continued.
“He was later found in a boat between the rocks and taken out of the water,” said Lambinon. “Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.”
An inquest is being conducted.
According to Lambinon, the family would have returned home on Wednesday. “Counselors are looking after his father, mother and two brothers. We express our deepest condolences to the family.”
Louis Botha, Christopher’s grade guardian at Helpmekaar for the past two years, told Rhewal that he was a strong academic child who loved school very much. “He was a keen rugby player, but will be especially remembered as a gentle, friendly and quiet boy. He was very popular among his circle of friends. His passing leaves a great void.”
Meanwhile, the school also expressed its condolences on social media. “One of our own is to Jesus. Christopher drowned this morning at Vleesbaai. Our hearts are broken. We’re going to miss you, Christopher.”
In a separate message, the school asked the community to support Christopher’s parents, Barries and Nadia, and his brothers – Heinrich, a grade 9 learner at Helpmekaar College, and Luan, a grade 6 learner at Louw Geldenhuys Primary School – in this difficult time to pray.
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