A man on a jet ski comes dangerously close to swimmers before spraying them with water on a beach near The Palm, Jebel Ali. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Close on the heels of the tragic death of 14-year-old Emirati Abdullah Al Amiri in a jet ski accident near Palm Jumeirah last month and the permanent disfiguring of 10-year-old Daniel Clamens, another near-fatal accident has shocked beach-goers in Dubai.

A 27-year-old South African rugby player, J.B., fell off a double storey boat on June 17 onto a platform and knocked his head on the motor of the boat, the impact of which threw him into the water. The accident broke his neck and caused brain injury. While the victim's wife is unavailable for comment, sources claim that the man has been declared medically brain-dead and is currently in a state of coma.

These accidents have prompted warnings from safety experts urging water sport lovers to be cautious while hitting the beaches here. Talking to XPRESS, Candy Fanucci, Founder of Pirate Surf Rescue Team in Dubai, highlights the dangers of unsupervised water sports on Dubai's open beaches. "Jet skis are accidents waiting to happen. If you see someone on a jet ski while you're in the sea, stay as far away from them as possible. They have the reflection of the water and the sun in their eyes, which makes them largely unable to spot a swimmer in their proximity," she says.

The South African lifeguard explains how trying to help a person with a neck injury could lead to further damage. "By being ill-informed, one can actually harm the victim more than benefit them. A person who has fallen off a boat, such as the victim in question, should be left alone until qualified medical help arrives. Moving the patient may cause terminal paralysis," she warns.

Earlier this month, 10-year-old Daniel Clamens had his face ripped apart in an accident on Al Mamzar Beach involving a jet ski. Clamens, who was on a banana boat being towed by a neighbour's boat, fell off the tube and was instantly hit by a man on a jet ski who was chasing the boat in order to launch himself off the waves. The jet ski hit Clamens straight in the face, damaging four of his vital nerves and cutting off half of his face. The 10-year-old is undergoing a series of surgeries.

Safety gear a must

Last month, 14-year-old Emirati Abdullah Al Amiri died in a jet ski accident near Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Hotel in Dubai. Police reports say Al Amiri and three friends were on a raft while a fourth friend was on the jet ski.

When a wave toppled the raft over, Al Amiri, who wasn't wearing a life jacket, was pulled under the water, and resurfaced in another spot, where the jet ski struck the 14-year-old in the head, causing death. If the teenager had worn a life jacket, he would have bobbed on the surface of the water, making himself more visible to his friends.

"The use of safety gear for water sports is an issue that needs to be addressed asap [as soon as possible]," says Fanucci, adding, "Ideally, beaches should be segregated into zones for different water sports. Each area should be demarcated, creating a circuit or track for each sport."

"Boats should be away from water skis, which should be away from the surfers, swimmers and those on jet skis. As per government regulations all users of jet skis should have a life vest, helmet, fire extinguisher, emergency whistle and goggles on hand. What people don't understand is that a jet ski is no different from a motorcycle, often reaching similar speeds. When you fall on water, the impact is just as harsh as falling onto a tarmac road," Fanucci says.

Fanucci gives the example of a 10-year-old girl who was hit by a surf board on Sunset Beach in Jumeirah two weeks ago.

"The girl was in the shallow water and a beginner surfer got carried on the wave towards the shoreline. The surf board hit the child straight on the head. Fortunately, the injury was minor and she didn't have a concussion, but it was just another reminder of the importance of safety procedures on beaches. It may seem like a fun day out on the beach, but participating in unauthorised water sports is just as dangerous as participating in unauthorised motor sports. It's not all fun and games when things go wrong."