Locals are raising concerns regarding a lack of safety measure at the Blue Rock Adventure Park in Somerset West following yet another drowning incident that took place at the facility this past week.
On the afternoon of Friday, December 13, a 28-year-old man drowned in a quarry at the popular adventure park after attempting to save someone else who was drowning in the same waters.
Thando Mpande unfortunately lost his life in his heroic efforts, leaving behind a wife and son. Mpande was a stellar employee at Splashworks, a wholesaler for plumbing and sanitary ware.
The company took to Facebook to share their sadness regarding Mpande’s passing, calling him a hero.
“Blue Rock has been operational for the last 16 years. Maintenance and safety checks of the resort and its activities are done daily; upgrades are done whenever necessary. There are three to five Blue Rock staff members around the lake area on duty to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors. There is also a boat and driver constantly on the water. Rescue rings as well as rescue buoys are available and easy accessible around the lake too. Over the years Blue Rock has taking more precautions, added more rescue buoys and staff to supervise the swimming areas and make guests aware; alert them to look after their children and not leave them unattended in the water, question them if they can swim and advise them to wear lifejackets,” says Blue Rock Adventure Park regarding recent safety concerns.
According to reports by Capetalk, a local business man by the name of Roderick Barrett, witnessed the incident and says Blue Rock employees did not properly respond to the incident and only appeared at the scene some 25 minutes later – when the ambulance had already arrived.
On top of this, Barrett claims no lifeguards were present and another swimmer tried to pull Mpande’s lifeless body from the water. As there were reportedly no lifeguards present, the bystanders themselves were forced to attempt CPR themselves until paramedics arrived to take over. The man who pulled Mpande’s body from the water was a NSRI volunteer who happened to be on scene at the time.
Many bystanders who witnessed the incident felt the public who were present at the park were left to deal with the drowning while employees were no where to be seen.
“Just after 14:00, Blue Rock’s coordinator went to check up on the group (holding their end of year event at the park) again who then notified her that one staff member of the group, by the name Thando, is missing; they didn’t know where he was. The group did confirm that they saw Thando get out of the water. As the group (including Thando) was scheduled to play paintball, the coordinator therefore contacted the paintball marshall to check if he would maybe be there but his colleagues who were getting ready to be geared updidn’t see him. A search was done in the bathrooms but he was also not found there.
According to the park an extensive search was carried out to find Thando eventually leading back to the water where he was last seen swimming.
“Blue Rock’s coordinator and management went down to the area where Thando was swimming last. A description of Thando was given to surrounding guests to find out where they maybe saw him. Out of precaution, without knowing yet where Thando was or what happened to him, an ambulance was called by Blue Rock’s staff immediately. Blue Rock’s lifeguard started searching under the water; he finally found Thando and got him out. CPR was done instantly and the ambulance arrived about 5-10 minutes afterwards. After about another 5-10 minutes of various attempts to revive Thando, nothing further could unfortunately be done to save his life anymore,” said the park in a statement.
This is the third drowning incident at the park in the last four years, with the first being a 9-year-old girl in 2016 and the second a 20-year-old man in 2018.
Cape Town Etc made attempts to contact Blue Rock Adventure Park for comment but no feedback was received at time of publish. This is a developing story.