Faulty truck crushes couple in bakkie

2008-05-27 00:00

A couple died after an out-of-control truck smashed into oncoming traffic, crushing their double cab vehicle, on the N3 just outside Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The couple, believed to be a husband and wife, were travelling towards Gauteng in their Toyota 4x4 with a Free State registration plate when they were killed.

Netcare911 worked for about 30 minutes trying to resuscitate the woman, but in vain. At the same time, the Fire Department worked for more than an hour with the jaws of life to get the body of the trapped male driver from the vehicle.

The accident caused traffic to be backed up on the northbound carriageway. One traffic officer worked around the clock to re-direct motorists.

Truck driver Masilo Masiteng (35), who was transporting sunflower seeds to a Willowton Oil manufacturing company, was seen explaining to traffic officers what happened.

He told The Witness that he was outside the truck, which was parked on the side of the southbound carriageway, inspecting its brakes when it rolled away, crossing the island into oncoming northbound traffic.

"I started suspecting that the breaks were faulty before passing the [Peter Brown] off-ramp. Shortly after passing the off-ramp, I managed to stop the truck, and I alighted to check the pipes that supply air to the brakes. As I was busy checking, the truck rolled down the highway. My conductor, Fanyana Mthombeni, jumped out of the moving truck," said Masiteng.

Motorists who witnessed the accident said that they were shocked to see the heavy truck with no one in it speeding down the highway.

"It bumped against the concrete barrier before breaking into the oncoming traffic. It hit the double cab head-on," said a witness.

The truck pushed the double cab back for about 150 metres, compressing its whole front part.

There were suspicions that the deceased woman was pregnant, Netcare911 could not confirm this.

Masiteng said the truck’s brakes were last checked before he left TJ Breads Company in Grootvlei in Mpumalanga on May 19. Since then he had travelled extensively.

RTI spokeswoman Zinhle Mngomezulu said the truck was towed to RTI Mkondeni testing station to establish if it was roadworthy.

bhans@witness.co.za

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