Crashed groom weds

2013-03-25 00:00

NERISSA Govender’s heart almost stopped when she saw the helicopter carrying her husband-to-be disappear into the trees, followed by a loud bang.

She was waiting in a horse-drawn carriage at the Pietermaritzburg Botanical Gardens where she was to tie the knot on Saturday with Dr Rishi Ramdeo , of Trinidad and Tobago.

The helicopter transporting the groom crashed on Mayor’s Walk, smashing the Botanical Gardens’ palisade fence.

Govender said her first reaction was to pray, and she and her family held hands and said a prayer.

“I come from a strongly Christian family and our lives are based on strong faith in God. Jesus Christ said ‘call on me and I will answer’, and we did.”

Their prayers were evidently answered because Ramdeo, his parents, Vijay and Danmathie Ramdeo, his best man, Robert Soogrim, and the pilot escaped with minor bruises and scratches.

The accident was blamed on engine failure.

The couple were so determined to tie the knot that they did not allow the accident to spoil their day. They said their vows at Mediclinic hospital where the groom was being treated.

Said Govender: “I was with my mother in the horse-drawn carriage. I could see the helicopter coming. Every­one was excited about it.

“The next there was a big bang. I did not know what was happening, but being with my mother at that time gave me strength.”

Ramdeo was also a man of faith, said Govender, and the accident would serve to make the bond between them even stronger.

Ramdeo said he did not see much of the accident. At one moment they were flying and the next he became aware of paramedics removing him from the wreckage.

He thanked God he was alive.

“What God joined together no man or accident will separate. And all good things work together for good to them who love God and according to his purpose. We are now looking to our future as a couple” he said.

Govender (30), a former Witness reporter and Miss India Globe, and Ramdeo, the youngest dentist in Trinidad and Tobago at 32, are ready to start their new life together. She said they planned to have four children, and she wants a horse, which Ramdeo had already agreed to buy her.

“We met in London five years ago when we were attending a church conference.”

Their romance had been like a fairytale, she said, and they would ensure that it remained that way.

“The accident could have been worse but we are happy. It was a happy ending,” said Govender.

“He is a prince in many ways,” she said from their undisclosed honeymoon venue.

Eyewitness Michael Makins, a driver with a local company, said he heard a man screaming after he saw the helicopter hit the ground.

He had been waiting for a friend in the park opposite the entrance to the Botanical Gardens on Mayor’s Walk when he heard the helicopter.

“I was sitting in the shade of a tree listening to music in my car and saw the helicopter circle over the Botanical Gardens and then fly back over the park. I thought to myself that it was coming in very low. I tried to get my phone out of my pocket to video it, but I just couldn’t get it out in time.

“I realised it was drifting and it started spinning in the air. It lost control and went down, landing on the palisade fence. A piece of the propeller was flung to the other side of the park. I locked my car and ran there. One man was screaming.”

Emergency workers cordoned off the scene as onlookers crowded around to get a glimpse of the wreckage.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority was investigating, said spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu.

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