Deaths of five surfers killed in Scheveningen memorialized a year later
Tuesday marks one year since five surfers drowned off the coast of Scheveningen, The Hague on May 11, 2020. More than three dozen volunteers will receive a medal from the Dutch Rescue Society (KNRM) for participating in the dramatic search and rescue of three missing surfers, one of whom survived, and the recovery of the bodies of three others over the days that followed.
Several commemorative events will be organized around Scheveningen on Tuesday. Photos and poems will also be displayed at Muzee Scheveningen until June 8 to honor the lives of Joost, Sander, Max, Pim and Mathijs, who were between the ages of 22 and 38
The group of five died after getting into trouble in the North Sea on a day which reached up to 24 degrees, but at the Scheveningen coast a massive amount of foam formed because of an unusual combination of large amounts of algae and an unseasonably strong wind. At least seven swimmers and surfers were troubled by the heavy, dense foam that evening pushing rescue workers into action, including the six who went missing.
Two of them died, despite attempts to resuscitate them, and a day later the bodies of two more surfers were recovered. The body of a fifth victim was briefly seen that day, but it was finally brought to shore three weeks later.
Op 11 mei 2020 komen Sander, Pim, Joost, Max en Mathijs om het leven in de zee bij Scheveningen. De harde wind, hoge golven en de dikke laag zeeschuim in de branding werd hen fataal. https://t.co/7e8B02K9yO— Hans Nieuwenhuijse (@gm_hans) May 11, 2021
(foto: de-scheveninger. nl Dick Teske) pic.twitter.com/E7fp6f9kEe
For their heroic effort, 39 KNRM volunteers were awarded a bronze medal. Three rescuers who managed to save one surfer with a six-meter long lifeboat were handed a silver medal for their efforts.
"Between the waves up to four meters high, right next to the concrete blocks of the pier and the three-meter foam layer, they managed to save one surfer," KNRM stated.
The City of The Hague also announced it will investigate whether special safe zones can be created for water sport enthusiasts, such as a warning system that would help people to be better informed of the dangers at sea like foam. It also wants to re-examine the current system of flags used at the beaches along the Dutch coast to see if they can be augmented or made more clear.
The city said consultations have recently been held with surfers and representatives of surfer associations to discuss if swimmers, surfers and other fans of water sports could wear special, highly visible clothing to make rescue easier, according to Omroep West.
According to a spokesman for the municipality, it will be examined in the near future which of these measures are feasible.