At 16h03 on Saturday 28 April, NSRI Richards Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of a spear-fisherman from Port Elizabeth, Hilton Grove, who had gone missing while spearfishing.
A group of 4 men were free-dive spearfishing from the ski-boat Tjienkie 1 nautical mile North of St Lucia lighthouse and approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore. They had launched at 07h00 in the morning from the Meerensee ski-boat club to spend a day at sea spear-fishing.
The 4 men are – boat owner and skipper Koos Joubert, 63, his son Jacque-Pier, 22, and crewman Martin Bosman, 33, all from Richards Bay, and their friend Hilton Grove, 31, from Port Elizabeth. They are all experienced spear-fishermen and qualified open water divers.
Hilton, an IT Manager for the Port Elizabeth Hotel Group, and his wife Lisa were visiting their friends in Richards Bay for the weekend.
While spear-fishing Hilton Grove reportedly failed to surface from a dive, just before 16h00, and the remaining 3 men raised the alarm while initiating a search.
“Our NSRI Richards Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Spirit of Richards Bay and Spirit of Round Table and a Transnet National Ports Authority rescue helicopter and the SA Police Force were activated and on arrival on-scene an extensive sea, shore and air search commenced, in 1.5 meter swell and light Northerly winds, for the missing man.” said Cornel du Toit, NSRI Richards Bay deputy station commander.
The local yacht Spirit of Adventure, that was in the area at the time, joined in the search.
When no sign of the missing man had been found, by 22h00 on Saturday 28 April, the search was suspended and was at first light on Sunday 29 April, by Police boats, the Transnet Ports Authority rescue helicopter and Police conducting shore patrols in an ongoing effort to find the missing man who is feared to have drowned.
The yacht Spirit of Adventure remained on-scene at anchor throughout the night to continue a watch.
The missing mans wife and the 3 spear-fishermen are being assisted by Police trauma counsellors.
It is unknown what caused missing Hilton Grove to fail to surface from the dive.
Police have opened an inquest docket.
Hilton Grove on Twitter: