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Update: Salt Rock near drowning victim Akhona is now talking and eating

Doctors were not confident she would survive the first 24 hours.

A 17-year-old girl is recovering in the intensive care at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, after she nearly drowned at a Salt Rock beach on Saturday.

Akhona Mzila can now talk and eat on her own and is asking her family a great many questions about what happened to her.

The grade 12 pupil was hit by a wave while posing for a photo on the beach in front of the Salt Rock caravan park and was washed into the sea.

Her mother, Zandile Mzila, told the Courier that doctors had told them that they were not confident that she would survive the first 24 hours on Saturday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Teen fighting for her life, two men hospitalised after daring rescue at Salt Rock beach

She spent over 10 minutes under water and doctors were worried that she might suffer brain damage.

“She is now eating on her own and she can talk, asking lots of questions.

“We are very grateful to all the people who gave us support and prayed for Akhona,” said Zandile.

The Pietermaritzburg girl was rescued by Empangeni resident Tommy van Staden and Tyrone West from Pietermaritzburg, who did not hesitate to jump into the sea when they saw Akhona in trouble.

“Our heartfelt thanks to Tommy who was on holiday with his wife Rachel who dived in without a second thought, Tyrone West who pulled her out and kept her afloat till the lifeguards came and Garth Edwards who was the first response for resuscitation and mouth to mouth.

“The life guards themselves did a wonderful job and of course the beachgoers who prayed for us and kept our hope alive for her survival. We are forever grateful.”

According to Tommy, he was at the tidal pool when he heard the girl screaming for help.

“I realised that someone was in trouble and jumped into the water.

“As I got there Tyrone was also in the water. He was able to swim faster than me and got to the girl first.

“She was floating face down. We were later told that she had spent about 15 minutes under the water. We managed to pull her up out of the water,” said Van Staden, speaking from his bed at Alberlito Hospital.

West was badly cut by the mussels on the rocks and was taken to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg, said paramedics.

West was with a group of friends from his church and they were standing by the rock pool and saw a group of people standing by the sea.

“As we walked closer, I realized that there was someone drowning and I jumped into the water. As we were swimming towards the shore, I got washed out to the rocks and got cut. I was discharged from the hospital on Saturday. I am happy that we managed to help her,” said the Maritzburg resident.

KwaDukuza lifeguard superintendent Bongani Xulu said the lifeguards arrived after the two heroes had rescued Akhona and assisted all three back to the beach.

“Due to the rip current, the lifeguards had to swim towards Salt Rock main beach with the girl and the two men in order to get them to safety,” said Xulu.

 

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