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Family may sue over diver death

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DAILY NEWS

Ronald Reece died after being dragged out to sea by strong currents at Brighton Beach.

Durban - Three weeks after the death of Queensburgh diver Ronald Reece, his mother has spoken of her anguish at claims that her son was denied immediate treatment at a Durban hospital.

Maria Reece, 59, an inventory clerk in Randburg, said she took the first flight to Durban when she was told of her son’s diving incident.

“Getting to Durban was the easy part. Once at King Edward Hospital I had to wait more than 20 minutes before I could see my son. I waited longer at the hospital than I did at the airport for my flight.”

She said hospital staff had told her that Ronald was “brain-dead”.

“They wanted to take him off the ventilator,”she said.

“They started pumping him with adrenaline to try and get his heart going. But it did not work ... he died just a few hours later,” said an emotional Reece.

She had last seen Ronald at 9pm on June 8. “The hospital contacted me at 1am the next day (on June 9) and said Ronald had not made it.”

She said her grandson was trying to understand what had happened to his father.

“He’s very young so it’s hard for us to explain it to him.” The child now lives in Pretoria with Ronald’s ex-wife.

“Knowing that I won’t see him (Ronald) again… it’s just not easy to get over.”

She said she was considering her legal options to help get the answers she needs and closure to her son’s death.

Reece, 36, and his friend Phillip Mostert, were swept out to sea while trying to catch crayfish at Brighton Beach last month. Mostert swam to safety and Reece was pulled out of the water by lifeguards.

Paramedics managed to revive him and he was taken to hospital. At the time, Rescue Care paramedic Garrith Jamieson claimed that hospital staff had argued for 45 minutes over whether to admit Reece or not. Jamieson said he had been told to take his patient to Wentworth Hospital, as King Edward did not have a ventilator machine. Jamieson refused, telling doctors and nurses that the diver was critical and moving him to another hospital could cost him his life.

Reece was eventually admitted and put on a ventilator.

He died a few hours later.

Jamieson wrote a letter of complaint to the KZN Department of Health. To date he has not had a response.

The Daily News has sent regular e-mails and made calls to the department since June 9, querying the status of its investigation into Reece’s death.

Department spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said on Tuesday that Reece’s family had been briefed on what had happened that night. He said the family had been briefed after Reece’s death but would not say when.

“We have not heard from them again, since that time.”

He added if the family opted to go the legal route, the department would not comment further.

Maria Reece could not be reached on Tuesday for comment.

Daily News


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