British model, 19, was swept out to sea by ‘ferocious wave’ in front of horrified onlookers as she watched sunrise on Boxing Day in South Africa


A BRITISH model was killed by a “ferocious wave” that swept her out to sea as she watched the sun rise in South Africa.

Sinead Moodliar, 19, was standing on a rock letting water wash over her feet when she was knocked in “a truly frightening swell” last Boxing Day.

Sinead Moodliar, 19, died after watching the sun rise on a beach in Umhlanaga in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
East Anglia News Service
The philosophy student was letting water wash over her feet when she was swept out to sea
East Anglia News Service
Umhlanga Rocks in South Africa, where Sinead was swept out to sea
Getty – Contributor

She hit her head on a rock while she was being dragged 35m out into the rough sea as onlookers screamed for help, an inquest heard today.

Lifeguards swam out and dragged her unconscious back to shore after a nearby resident on a fifth floor balcony reported her position in the water.

Sinead of Wilburton, Cambridgeshire, who was studying philosophy at Cambridge’s Anglia Ruskin University was resuscitated on the beach, but died the next day in hospital.


The tragedy happened in the resort town of Umhlanga north of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

The hearing at Cambridgeshire Coroners Court in Huntingdon heard how a post mortem concluded that Sinead died from complications of lung damage and a head injury following a near drowning.

David Heming, the senior coroner for Cambridge and Peterborough, recorded an accident conclusion.

He ruled out any foul play or “anything sinister” in her death, saying: “I am entirely satisfied that this was a catastrophic accident based on the evidence I have heard.

“Sinead had gone to the beach area at Umhlanga rocks to witness the sunrise. She was standing on a rock area when a powerful wave washed her into the sea.”

Turning to her parents Bob and Noeleen Moodliar who were at the hearing, he said: “This is the death of your daughter and a real tragedy to say the least.

“I can only hope that over the course of time life becomes a little easier.”

A senior coroner ruled Sinead’s death was a ‘catastrophic’ accident
East Anglia News Service
Sinead’s parents Bob and Noeleen Moodliar have been left devastated by their daughter’s death
East Anglia News Service


Sinead had been staying at a flat owned by her parents in the Umhlanga area after jetting out to spend Christmas in South Africa where she had many friends.

The inquest heard how Mr and Mrs Moodliar were in the UK when she died.

Father-of-three Mr Moodliar, a Subway takeaway franchise operator, said he last spoke to his daughter on the phone when she was in a restaurant at 10pm on Christmas Day.

He said he received another call on Boxing Day afternoon to say that she had been involved in the accident.

We absolutely miss our daughter. We cannot come to terms with the fact that she is no longer with us. It is just as if she is on holiday.

Bob Moodliar

Mr Moodliar said his daughter was in a critical, but stable condition after being transferred to Ethekwini Hospital, Durban.

He arranged for clinician friends living a short distance away in Durban to visit her and they told him that he and his wife should fly out immediately.

Mr Moodliar told the hearing that he was initially optimistic that his daughter would survive.

But when they arrived at Durban airport, they were told by friends who met them that she had died.


Mr Moodliar said a lifeguard spotted his daughter by a shore wall at 4.57am as he was arriving for work.

“At 5.15am, the lifeguards heard loud screams from the rocks. They were told that Sinead was in the rough water and a rip tide was present.

“Three of them went underwater searching for Sinead to no avail. A resident of a fifth floor apartment who had an aerial view directed the lifeguards to where Sinead was around 35m out.”

Mr Moodliar said Sinead had been in the water for around eight minutes and was given CPR by lifeguards after being brought back to shore.

She started breathing again before paramedics arrived and recorded the oxygen levels in her blood improving.

Mr Moodliar later spoke to witnesses who told him how she had been swept away.

He said: “She was allowing the sea to wash over her feet. She was not swimming. She was standing on a rock.”

Mr Moodliar said she was “engulfed” by the sea and swept out “very rapidly”.


Speaking after the hearing, Mr Moodliar said after the hearing: “We absolutely miss our daughter. We cannot come to terms with the fact that she is no longer with us. It is just as if she is on holiday.”

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