Search continues for Joburger lost in Midmar Dam

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A drone hovers over the Midmar Mile women's race, providing video footage of competitors. Photo: Shelley Kjonstad

Durban - Search for missing Midmar Mile swimmer Herman van Straten continued on Sunday, but by the afternoon, police had still not found him.

Jack Haskins, of the police search and rescue unit, said they were still searching for the 42-year-old from Joburg.

According to media reports, Van Straten was missing, presumed dead, after he did not finish the company relay event on Saturday.

Midmar Mile organisers released a statement afterwards, saying Saturday’s conditions were “far from ideal”, with “exceptional” swells running freely across the surface of the dam.

“We were left with no choice but to restrict the final event (the family relay) to participants of 13 years old and older,” the statement said.

No incidents were reported on Sunday.

A small cloud formed over the dam just before start of the fourth and last race of the day on Sunday when the parents and three of swimmer Garreth Brandon Beech’s friends laid his ashes to rest in a brief ceremony aboard the official craft.

Beech, who died aged 18 after a training session in November last year, had been a regular at the Midmar Mile since his first swim at the age of 8.

He represented the SA Aquatics swimming team in Canada in 2012 and was the top Central Gauteng open water swimmer in 2012 and last year.

His father, Warren, mother, Janet, and friends Chris McGlynn, Cassie Shear and Daniel de Silo laid flowers on the waters of the dam and his father placed the ashes in a weighted plastic bag that sank into the water. Swimmers and spectators paid their respects with a minute of silence.

* After a suspected drowning on the North Coast, police spokesman Thulani Zwane said police were investigating the death of 26-year-old Samkelisiwe Mkhize, whose body was found at Salt Rock beach at the weekend.

Netcare 911’s Chris Botha said Mkhize and her fiancé were swimming at the beach when she was swept out to sea and disappeared under the water.

And on Saturday afternoon, “choppy” conditions caused a 15-foot ski boat to develop engine problems and take in water off uShaka, Durban, the National Sea Rescue Institute’s Wendy Serfontein said.

But the crew of Bingo, comprising four men from the ages 13 to 62, bailed out the water and restored motor power.

The Transnet National Ports Authority pilot boat and the institute escorted them to the port.

The Mercury


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