Minister Schafer deeply saddened by tragic passing of Westerford High learner | Western Cape Government


Minister Schafer deeply saddened by tragic passing of Westerford High learner

10 December 2017

We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Shannen Rustin, a Grade 11 learner from Westerford High School. My deepest condolences go to the Rustin family, friends and Westerford Community.

The tragic passing of Shannen, while on a school tour in Vietnam has been inaccurately reported by some media and although we don't know the actual cause of death at this stage, it is important that I set the record straight.

A group of thirty two Grade 11 learners from Westerford High School are currently on an educational history tour of South East Asia, visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The tour group is accompanied by two teachers and one parent from Westerford High School and is scheduled to take place from 3rd December 2017 to 19th December 2017.

Mr Gordon Brookbanks, the tour leader has provided the following summary of events.

On the morning of 08 December, at around 08h30, the tour group left on a cycle ride from near their hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam with the weather being overcast and mild.

Some learners reportedly had difficulty with riding a bicycle and instead those learners travelled on the back of scooters.

It is reported that after around 30 minutes of cycling, Shannen Rustin, indicated to the local tour operator that she was feeling tired cycling. Shannen stopped cycling and travelled on the back of a scooter with the tour operator, who reported that Shannen was "chatting and laughing" with him.

At about 09h10 the group reportedly stopped at the approach to a bridge which crosses a river for a rest and opportunity to take photos.

Mr Brookbanks was reportedly called and informed that Shannen had collapsed. Mr Brookbanks instructed the tour operator to take them to the nearest hospital which was six minutes away. While travelling to the hospital, Mr Brookbanks attempted mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Emergency staff at the hospital reportedly tried in vain to resuscitate Shannen for over an hour.

Shannen's family were immediately informed when Shannen collapsed and of her subsequent passing.

Shannen's family have travelled to Vietnam and will be supported by Westerford staff.

This is an incredibly difficult time for the Rustin family, and I appeal to the media to report on the facts accurately and sensitively.

The tour group has decided to continue with the tour in loving memory of their friend and classmate, Shannen Rustin. The school has sent a psychologist to join the group to assist with counselling.

My thoughts and prayers remain with all involved, and especially with the Rustin family.

Media Enquiries: 

Jessica Shelver
Spokesperson to Minister Debbie Schafer
076 175 0663