Home bids farewell to canal drowning victim

Graham Clarke fell into a canal at Century City with his motorosed chair and drowned. Picture: blogs.sun.ac.za

A memorial service will be held today for Cheshire Home resident Graham Clarke who drowned in a canal at Century City last week.

Mr Clarke, 61, fell into the canal at the Waterstone West residential development on Tuesday April 23.

He had asked his carer, Leslie Baadjies, to fetch feed for the ducks, according to Alet Bosman, manager at Cheshire Home.

“On his way back he heard the splash and jumped in fully clothed to save Mr Clarke,” she said.

But Mr Clarke who had spent over 30 years strapped into a motorised chair could not be saved from the nearly 2-metre deep murky water.

A Century City resident who did not want to be named consoled Mr Baadjies after the incident.

The woman, who also has a sister at Cheshire Home, knew Mr Clarke and described him as a friendly guy who always spoke and made little jokes.

She had seen the commotion through her window and was shocked to learn that Mr Clarke had drowned.

Mr Baadjies had been very traumatised and had refused to leave Mr Clarke’s body, she said.

Tabletalk saw Mr Baadjies a day after the incident but he was too emotional to speak. His wife, Lluwayda, said he was going for trauma counselling.

Chris Blackshaw, CEO of the Century City Property Owners’ Association (CCPOA) which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the precinct, was on the scene shortly after Mr Clarke had been lifted out of the water.

“On behalf of the CCPOA, I would like to offer our condolences to Graham’s family, friends and the staff at the Eric Miles Cheshire Home.

“It is a very sad day for all involved when we experience an event as tragic as this.

“I would like to commend the Century City safety and security team first responders and ER24 for their quick response and extensive efforts to resuscitate Graham.

“I would also like to offer my special thanks to the Waterstone West resident who assisted and consoled the carer throughout the afternoon,” said Mr Blackshaw.

Mr Clarke had been one of the home’s longest residents and would be sorely missed, said Ms Bosman.

His brother, Justin Clarke, lives abroad and flew home after Mr Clarke’s death.

He said he had a lot of respect for his brother and for all his achievements as a disabled person.

Originally from Pinetown, Mr Clarke had been the leader of an expedition to Marion Island. He had a stroke in 1984 while on the island and had to be airlifted to hospital.

Mr Clarke’s death was also covered on the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa website.

“It is with very sad news that we share the passing of Graham Clarke, who was the meteorologist on three Marion Island teams in the 80s,” said the statement.

According to the website article, Mr Clarke “left his Marion Island legacy behind” by contributing 213 photos to the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive.