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Cape Town - A Cape spearfisherman narrowly escaped serious injury when he accidentally shot himself in the right leg after a wave knocked him over as he was wading through the surf near Buffels Bay on Sunday.
Willie van Wyk, 38, from Hout Bay, was in the water with an unnamed friend at Bordjies Drift when a wave knocked them over, causing them to be dragged over the rocks, said Darren Zimmerman, commander of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Simon’s Town base .
“In the process, it appears the spear from his spear gun went through his leg. There was a fear the spear might have penetrated or severed the femoral artery.” A medical rescue team were sent urgently to help.
Zimmerman said when the team reached Van Wyk, they found the spear protruding on either side of his right leg.
“Indications showed the spear had missed his femoral artery. Paramedics stabilised the man before bolt cutters were used to shorten the spear.”
Van Wyk was tended to by NSRI volunteers, Cape Medical Response, Red Cross and provincial EMS ambulance personnel before being airlifted to the Constantia Mediclinic.
“It is not clear if the speargun was loaded and fired through his leg,” Zimmerman said.
“Based on the injury and the force that would have been required to go through the upper leg it is most likely that the spear gun as loaded and then fired while the two men were being rolled about over the rocks after being hit by the wave.”
Zimmerman said Van Wyk was in a stable condition when he was sent to hospital, where doctors were to surgically remove the spear. Van Wyk is expected to make a full recovery.
Van Wyk declined to speak to the Cape Argus on Sunday.
A similar incident in Buffels Bay in December 2006 nearly claimed the life of Judian Bruk.
Bruk accidentally fired his speargun into his chest while diving.
Doctors who removed the spear from Bruk’s chest said he was lucky to be alive as it had missed his heart by a mere 2cm.
The spear, almost 30cm in length, entered his chest just under his nipple, splitting his pectoral muscle and shattering a rib before hitting his lung, diaphragm and the left lobe of his liver.