Instructions and warnings are always there for a reason. However, there are still people who like to take their chances and go against them. Jacob Issac Fletcher, a teenage official of the Pesta Penang Dragon Boat Race 2012, is one of them. The 19 year old was told not to swim in the Teluk Bahang Dam in Penang, Malaysia. However, he chose to ignore the warning and jumped in. Now, he is feared to have drowned.
The incident occurred during the dragon boat race’s lunch interval. During that one hour break, Jacob decided to go for a swim in the dam despite a warning by senior technical official Peter Ng that swimming was not allowed there. “I warned him earlier in the morning after I saw him swimming and he promised not to,” said Peter. His fellow officials heard him calling out for help at approximately 12.50pm on Sunday, but they could not locate him when they dived in to rescue him. The remainder of the dragon boat meet was also cancelled after the incident.
Some 20 participants from the Malaysia Navy Paddlers Club also assisted in the search. In fact, the event organisers only realised Jacob was missing when he had failed to report before the commencement of the races after lunch. They tried making several announcements as well as giving him multiple calls, but he was still nowhere in sight. Jacob, a hotel management student at Pusat Teknologi dan Pengurusan Lanjutan College, was described as a very good swimmer. He has actually been involved in dragon boat activities since he was merely 14 years old. Just last year, he was being appointed as a starting line official.
At the time of the incident, the water level at the dam was at 46.4m. According to Mohd Hatta, Balik Pulau OCPD Superintendent, Jacob was not wearing a life jacket when the incident took place. When his father, Mr Paul Thomas Fletcher, arrived at the scene at about 3.50pm, he broke down. “I hope that my son can be found,” he said. Ms Marie Fletcher, an aunt of his, described him as a bubbly and considerate person. Danny Law, the State Tourism Development and Culture Committee chairman, mentioned that he could have suffered from a cramp when he started calling for help. For more of the story, do refer over here.
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