Blue Rock drowning reignites calls for tighter municipal regulations

A drowning at the Blue Rock Resort in Somerset West has raised questions about liability and the duty of watersport facilities to safeguard patrons.

Blue Rock is a popular adventure park built around a quarry and deep lake, offering activities such as cable water-skiing, wakeboarding and rock jumping.

On Sunday 25 February, a 20-year-old man failed to surface from the water after jumping from the rocks and his dead body was later recovered by a diver.

Many on social media have accused the resort's management of failing to respond promptly to the emergency.

Enter at own risk?

In a statement, Blue Rock management says patrons enter their facility at their own risk.

Management claims that the young man who drowned was unable to swim and that life jackets are provided on request, in addition to other safety members.

Read: NSRI urges public to be safety conscious after woman drowns in Richards Bay

Meanwhile, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) says such facilities should have close relationships with paramedics and provide first-aid, lifeguards and a strict emergency plan.

NSRI CEO Dr Cleeve Robertson says more municipal regulations are needed to curb water drowning at any bodies of water and hold operators accountable.

Blue Rock and its staff members cannot unfortunately take over the obligations of individuals once they enter the resort, especially so when individuals cannot swim.

Blue Rock management in a statement issued to CapeTalk

Any facility should have a duty for basic level of care such as first-aid kits and people trained in first aid or life guards on duty and relationships with emergency services.

Dr Cleeve Robertson, CEO at NSRI

The reality is that you don't know the ability of any of your [partons]. You must assume that people can't swim.

Dr Cleeve Robertson, CEO at NSRI

You have a basic duty of care for people that enter your premises.

Dr Cleeve Robertson, CEO at NSRI

We need to tighten regulation to ensure owners and operators put basic things in place to prevent people from drowning in bodies of water.

Dr Cleeve Robertson, CEO at NSRI

In 2016, a 9-year-old girl also drowned while swimming at the resort. It's alleged she was not able to swim and was not wearing a life jacket.

The management at Blue Rock Resort declined an offer to be interviewed on air.

Take a listen to the NSRI CEO explain why municipal regulations matter:

Take a listen to medical attorney Johann Roux discuss the legal implications:


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