Junior lifesaver saves man from drowning

Junior lifesaver and member of the Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club Leo Mostert,14, on Fish Hoek Beach.

A 14-year-old junior lifesaver has rescued a drowning man at Fish Hoek Beach.

Leo Mostert was off duty on Friday December 3, walking his dogs on the beach with his brother at around 5pm, when he saw a man in the shallow water near Clovelly.

“At first glance, I thought it was a swimmer, but then noticed that the man had one leg only and he was in trouble.”

The man was wearing a black rain jacket and jeans and a crutch floated nearby.

Leo called out to two bystanders and ran into the water to help the man.

“He was facing the beach with waves crashing over his face, and I asked him if he was okay, but he just looked at me. He was very weak and non-responsive, and water was dripping from his mouth and nose.”

Leo pulled the man out of the water, and, with the help of the bystanders, carried him to the sand.

He says the man looked very tired and must have been in the water for a long time.

“He told us that he wanted to end his life. He said he had lost his leg four months ago and had lost his job because of it.”

Leo asked the bystanders to stay with the man while he sprinted to the Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club, on the opposite side of the beach, to get help.

He returned with help and when he got back, the man was sitting up and the bystanders were talking to him.

They carried him back to the lifesaving club.

Leo’s mother, Laureen Mostert, says she is “extremely proud” of her son.

He qualified as a junior lifesaver in September, and she credits his training at the Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club for helping him make a life-saving decision without thinking twice.

“Being a first responder is not easy, but he was able to assess the situation, make a decision and take control. All glory should go to the trainers, coaches and fellow lifeguards as what they do on a daily basis without hesitation or reward is truly amazing.”

Ms Mostert says the club does exceptional work and she encouraged the public to support it.

“They were brilliant with Leo after the rescue attempt. He received the necessary debriefing, and they handled the situation from there.”

Leo advises beachgoers to be more vigilant.

“There were a few people on the beach that day, and no one noticed the man in the water. It was hard to watch the people just walk by. You can make a difference by just asking someone if they need help.”

He joined the nippers at the age of four, and his mother says he could swim before he could walk.

“I have always loved the ocean, and my cousin, Jamie Venter, introduced me to nippers, as I used to watch her,” says Leo.

Chairman of the Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club Ernst Singe says it is a privilege to be part of an organisation such as the Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club and to see “one of our own use his training and make a difference”.

Many hours of voluntary training by the club’s dedicated team has helped save yet another life, he says. “Well done, Leo, we are very proud of you.”

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokeswoman Deanna February could not provide an update on the man’s condition. EMS received a call for help at 5.37pm, but when the ambulance arrived by 7.46pm the team was advised he had used private transport, she says.

Executive director of Living Hope Reverend John Thomas says that while the pandemic has aggravated depression and anxiety there has also been a lot more open discussion about these conditions, reducing the stigma traditionally surrounding them. Counselling is one of the support services offered by Living Hope, and if you need help, call 021 784 2800 or email office@livinghope.co.za. Or contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group at www.sadag.org.za or its Suicide Crisis Line at 0800 567 567.