The mayor of Cambridge in the UK has died after going into cardiac arrest following a scuba dive in Umkomaas, south of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mayor Nigel Gawthrope, 61, was on a dive charter boat on Friday when the alarm was raised on his condition, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) commander Kevin Fourie said on Sunday.
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He said paramedic services, eThekwini Surf Lifesaving Club lifeguards and a police search and rescue unit responded and rendezvoused with the dive boat after Gawthrope went into cardiac arrest after 12:30.
“Despite extensive CPR efforts by paramedics, the man was sadly declared deceased.”
Fourie commended the charter boat crew for their efforts to save Gawthrope.
He said the body would have been taken into the care of the forensic pathology services and that the police would open an inquest docket.
The Cambridge council on Sunday sent its condolences to Gawthrope’s family.
Gawthrope had been a city councillor for seven years, having first been elected in 2012 to represent the King’s Hedges ward and was re-elected in 2016.
In May 2018, councillors unanimously voted to elect him as mayor of Cambridge for their current municipal year, to May 2019.
His death comes eight months into his term of office.
Gawthrope was known as an experienced diver and underwater photographer and was holidaying in KwaZulu-Natal at the time of the incident.
Cambridge council leader, councillor Lewis Herbert, said Gawthrope’s death was a loss and massive shock.
“It hurts us all at the city council, particularly his closest colleagues, and that is nothing compared to the devastation that his close and loving family are feeling right now.”
He added: “Nigel represented King’s Hedges and the council with distinction and we will miss him terribly. He revelled in his most recent role of mayor and first citizen.”