Spectators watch paddlers taking part in the first day of the 2021 Fish River Canoe Marathon on Friday. Picture: Bruce Viaene/Gameplan Media
Spectators watch paddlers taking part in the first day of the 2021 Fish River Canoe Marathon on Friday. Picture: Bruce Viaene/Gameplan Media

Tragedy strikes Fish River Canoe Marathon after paddlers die

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 9, 2021

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Cape Town – Organisers of the Fish River Canoe Marathon have confirmed the deaths of two participants on the first stage of the race on Friday.

The 53-year-old Pretoria paddler Axel Marggraf died after falling out of his K3 canoe in Soutpansdrift rapid.

The 31-year-old Amanzimtoti resident Dean Chiazzari died after suffering a suspected heart attack after withdrawing from the race.

Fish River Canoe Marathon chairman Roy Copeman sent his condolences to the families and friends of the two paddlers. The entire paddling community has been shaken by the double tragedy.

"No words can describe the pain we are all feeling at this time," said Copeman.

He praised the race rescue and safety personnel, who responded quickly to both instances.

"Our safety teams and divers, together with a group of volunteers assisting and seconders at the scene, went to great lengths, risking their lives to assist locating and reaching the missing paddler," said Copeman.

"The response was fast and effective, but sadly we were not able to save the paddler.

Chiazzari withdrew from the race. He was being transported back to Cradock when it is believed he suffered a heart attack.

"Again, we were fortunate to have skilled personnel right on hand, but they were not able to resuscitate the paddler," Copeman said.

A full investigation into both tragedies will be carried out. The race organisers cannot make any further comment on the matters until the investigation is concluded.

IOL Sport

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