Cape Town - A man died on Sunday afternoon after the bakkie he was driving veered off a pier at the V&A Waterfront, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.
His passenger managed to swim to safety.
Two helicopter pilots jumped into the water to try to rescue the men. NSRI’s Table Bay commander Pat van Eyssen said the incident happened just after 3pm.
“On arrival… it was confirmed that a vehicle, believed to be a Waterfront maintenance bakkie, had gone over the pier into the water on the sea side of East Pier at the V&A Waterfront.
“Two people were reportedly in the vehicle at the time, both males. The passenger was able to get out of the vehicle and get to shore and he is being attended to for shock and he has been checked out by paramedics.”
Van Eyssen said the passenger had not been injured, but the driver was declared dead at the scene.
“It is not clear what caused the vehicle to go over the pier and into the water. The body of the deceased will be handed into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services. Efforts are under way to secure the vehicle and then today a crane will be brought in to recover the vehicle from the water.”
Two pilots, Howard Curran and JD Heyns, from Cape Town Helicopters, based at the Waterfront, were among the first on the scene and jumped into the water to try and save the men.
Curran described how he and his colleague jumped into the water after realising that someone could have been trapped in the bakkie.
“There was first a bit of confusion if there was someone in the bakkie or not, JD continued to undress and jumped into the water and cracked a window open and I jumped in and we managed to unlock the door.”
Curran said there was one person on top of the bakkie when they arrived, but he was not sure if it was the passenger: “We got one person out of the car and gave him over to ER24. We didn’t make much of it at first, but when we realised someone could be inside it got a bit serious to us.”
V&A Waterfront spokeswoman Carla White said the circumstances of the incident would be investigated.
“Concern is for his family at this time and our full support will be offered. Counselling has also been offered to his co-workers to offer support.”
She said the family had not yet been notified and that the victim’s name would be released once that had been done.
An inquest docket has been opened by the police.