Boy (7) killed in taxi crash

2008-11-12 00:00

AN unlicensed minibus taxi overturned yesterday morning, killing primary school pupil Tristan Naidoo (7) and injuring six more pupils in Northdale. Reckless driving is believed to be the cause of the accident. Police have confirmed that the taxi driver does not have a public driving permit.

The accident happened at 7.15 am on Firwood Road. The vehicle had just turned a bend when the driver lost control. It crashed into a fire hydrant on the corner before hitting the concrete fence of number 128 Firwood Road. Residents at number 128 witnessed the accident.

“I heard a screeching sound and ran outside to see what was happening. The vehicle was out of control and it ploughed on to a sandbank before it crashed into the concrete fence and overturned,” said resident Shirley Cheddy.

Paramedics arrived at the scene to find injured children lying on the road. Said Netcare 911 paramedic Garrith Jamison, “It was heart-breaking to see all these innocent children in such pain and agony. But then we heard people screaming that a child was caught under the vehicle.

“We raced over and with the help of a tow truck and bystanders we lifted the vehicle,” said Jamison, but “my heart dropped when I realised that there was nothing we could do” as the seven-year-old boy had died.

Seven other children escaped through the vehicle’s emergency exit. The driver was trapped inside after concrete bricks from the fence had fallen on him.

Tristan was a grade two pupil at Newholme Primary School. Newholme principal Preggy Naicker told The Witness how he will remember him. “He had an infectious smile, and was always immaculately dressed. I arrived on the scene and I saw this small body lying there and I recognised my school jacket.”

Four other pupils in the taxi were from Newholme Primary. The others are from Pafta Primary and, apparently, Deccan Road Primary. A teacher from Pafta Primary, Avitha Megnath, broke down when she arrived at the scene and saw the body of the young boy.

Tristan’s father was at work when the accident happened. He rushed to the scene with friends. A family spokesman told The Witness that Tristan’s parents are trying to come to terms with the loss. “The family has asked that they be allowed to grieve. They are not ready to speak to the media.”

Msunduzi Traffic Department spokesman Kwenza Khumalo said the vehicle was unlicensed and has been impounded. He said the SAPS have taken over the investigation. SAPS spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said several cases have been opened. “We are investigating a case of culpable homicide, reckless driving and of driving an unlicensed vehicle.”

sandilez@witness.co.za

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