Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ways of dying...

On the way home from a few days at the cottage at Boulders, I drove through Fish Hoek, and saw a search and rescue helicopter circling above the beach.

I could see a life saver's boat being tossed about in the rough surf, and like one of those ghastly people, who slow down to look through splayed fingers at the scene of a car crash, I went down to the beach to investigate!

Worse still, a friend who had followed behind me by car, joined me (at my encouragement) for an eye-witness account! O the shame!
I guess I was expecting an exciting rescue of some sort, I have seen bathers being pulled from the sea, and fishing vessels run aground on the rocks close by. All these encounters ended happily.

But not today.

Instead, the Shark warning flag was up.

There are look-out towers on the mountain slopes, that enable 'shark watchers' to warn the life guards on duty when there are great white sharks, coming in close proximity to bathers or surfers. The guards then raise a flag, and a siren signals people to leave the water.

In fact, unbeknownest to us, earlier in the day, a warning had been issued through the print and internet media, advising the people of Cape town of increased Great White activity in the False bay area.

It was too little, too late for Lloyd Skinner, a 37 year old engineer visiting from Zimbabwe, who died in the jaws of a shark some twenty minutes before we drove by.

Just a man, visiting the beach with his girlfriend on a beautiful summer's day. Who could have imagined such an outcome, to such a wholesome, innocent quest.

I drove home, sobered by the terrible news, ashamed of my insensitive curiosity and bemused by the fate of this man. When Tyne Daly, an elderly local, died in the same way, some four years ago I felt the same puzzlement.

Of all the ways to die, this most primal, savage end seems inexplicable. Out of the billions of people that inhabit this earth, only a very few will die this way. Mr Nielson better known as Sid, always says that everyone has to die, and there are lots of ways of dying. But it seems absurd to think that someones destiny can include such an ending. Dying at the jaws of a Great White Shark.

The next morning at Cafe Neo, my friends and I watched foreign tourists take photo's of the newspaper headlines. 'Fatal shark attack at Fish Hoek

Something to show the folks back home...

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