Funeral arrangements are still under way for a student whose body was found days after she fell into the Orange River last week.
Karissa Joubert, 19, was on a boat with friends on Thursday when she fell overboard and went missing in Orange River near Orania in the Northern Cape.
Community members opened their hearts and wallets to raise thousands of rands in the search for Joubert, whose body was only discovered four days later, on Monday.
“The family remains heartbroken by the freak accident,” said chief executive officer of Orania Movement Joost Strydom.
“The passing of Karissa is heartbreaking because she was so young with a promising life ahead of her.”
He said the collective energy to find Joubert was contagious and saw the community working together.
Strydom described the drowning of Joubert as a “freak” accident.
“People were very generous and gave us a discount on the helicopters we used to search for her.”
He said the small helicopters cost R11,000 an hour and a big helicopter cost R25,000.
“Poems and condolence messages are streaming in from the Orania community but also across the country,” he said.
Strydom said people from neighbouring towns came with boats and other things to help look for the missing student.
He said the strong current made the rescue very difficult.
Connor Hartnady, a lecturer from the department of emergency medical care at the University of Johannesburg, was in White River with Rescue SA to assist with search-and-rescue efforts as a result of tropical storm Eloise.
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“When water levels rise and floodwater breaches a river’s banks, objects such as trees can collect debris in their branches forming a strainer. If a victim is pinned in a strainer by the pressure of the water, it may lead to drowning,” Hartnady said.
He also noted that fast-flowing water, especially as a result of flooding, can be very difficult to escape from.
“A victim may also sustain a significant head injury when striking rocks or other submerged objects with force,” he said.