Car in pool tragedy

2010-08-03 00:00

A 55-YEAR-OLD woman arrived home from hospital yesterday afternoon, only to be rushed back after almost drowning when a car rolled into a swimming pool in Northdale.

The woman’s 33-year-old daughter died as paramedics battled to revive her after she was pulled from the car, which landed upside down in the pool.

The vehicle rolled down the driveway, flattened a fence that surrounded the pool and fell into the water, more than a metre deep.

The horrific accident happened in Balhambra Way at about 5.45 pm. It is believed that the brakes failed when the Mercedes Benz, which had four occupants, had just been parked. The group were about to get out of the vehicle on their arrival home from collecting the mother, who had just been discharged from Midlands Medical Centre.

The mother and a 38-year-old member of her family were rushed to Medi-Clinic Hospital in a critical condition and were both on life support in the intensive care unit last night.

A 40-year-old man, who was driving the vehicle, was the only one who managed to escape unhurt before the vehicle filled up with water. Netcare911 spokesperson Jeffrey Wicks said the driver then raised the alarm and “desperately” tried to pull the three women from the sinking vehicle.

K9 Search and Rescue member Warrant Officer Jack Haskins confirmed that the 55-year-old woman had just arrived home from hospital.

“They arrived from hospital when the accident happened. All I can say is that the brakes on the vehicle failed and it rolled down and fell over into the swimming pool,” Haskins said.

He said two victims were taken out of the water by family members and neighbours while another one was pulled out by paramedics.

Paramedics from Netcare911, ER24, provincial Emergency Medical Rescue Services and Daymed Hospital ambulances all rushed to the scene.

After the 33-year-old woman was declared dead, and her body covered with a blanket, family members sobbed and held each other.

The yard of the family’s face-brick double-storey house was filled with emergency personnel who brought in heavy rescue equipment.

After all three victims had been taken out of the water, police divers braved the murky water to search inside the vehicle to make sure that no one else was still trapped.

During the operation, police had a hard time trying to keep shocked onlookers from the scene. They demanded that only the family members, including the visibly shaken driver, should remain near the pool area.

“Everyone who is not the member of the family should move out of the area. This [crowd] is even more traumatic to the family,” said Haskins.

While some people obeyed the orders, others moved to a balcony overlooking the pool.

Next-door neighbour Fatima Abdul said her family rushed to the scene with their bakkie to try to pull the Mercedes Benz out of the pool.

“But a rope we were using kept on snapping,” she said.

Abdul said she was in her kitchen preparing tea when she heard a big crash, followed by loud screams.

“We first thought it was a taxi crashing on the street. We rushed outside, but my husband said a car has fallen into the swimming pool,” said Abdul.

ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said paramedics found people busy trying to apply a cardiopulmonary resuscitation to two patients. He said one victim was still trapped underwater.

“While emergency personnel were busy with the two patients they were informed of a third person still entrapped inside the car.

“The paramedics were able to get back a pulse on two of the patients,” Banks said.

Haskins said police are investigating a case of culpable homicide following the crash.

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