‘I’m okay, but the house isn’t’

2013-01-19 00:00

A fitness instructor who was house sitting for her best friend escaped with only a few stitches to her wrist when a truck ploughed through the house yesterday morning.

The driver’s decision to leave the truck idling on an incline while he drew money at an ATM led to a crash that left the Pietermaritzburg home all but completely destroyed.

The truck rolled forward from its parking spot in C.B. Downes Road near the Polly Shortts Spar, knocked over a lamp post and crossed three roads and a field in its 500 metre unmanned journey until it hit a house.

No one was hurt in the incident, but the house and contents were extensively damaged.

Jade James (25) told Weekend Witness she was making breakfast at around 5.45 am when she heard a strange noise.

“I went to the kitchen window to see what it was. I was shocked to see a truck with no driver coming into the yard.”

She knew she had to get out fast because there was gas in the house.

“I broke the window with my hand and jumped out. I ran around looking for the dogs. It was a miracle that I was not hurt.”

James has not been put off house sitting and said she would do it again, but for now she has returned to her parents’ home in Golf Road.

Basil Chislett, the driver of the truck — which was carrying 34 tons of sugar — said he stopped to draw money.

“We usually stop in this spot and I don’t know what really happened.

“I was going to withdraw money from the ATM as I was on my way to Gauteng for a delivery.

“As I was walking to the ATM I heard a big bang and I turned around; it was the truck running away.

“I tried to catch up with it but it was too late.”

He said the truck turned to the right as it crossed the road and then straightened as it careered across the field.

As he ran after the runaway truck, he could only watch helplessly as it went straight towards the house. He saw it crash into the gate and then into the house.

James’s VW Golf, which was parked in front of the house, was also damaged. The truck split the home in two, damaging the kitchen and living room.

The big bang awoke neighbours and drivers along C.B. Downes Road who looked on as the road filled with police and traffic officers.

Christina Maskell watched the roof of the house collapse as the truck was removed. Her ex-husband, David, who is the owner of the house, called from Cape Town.

“He asked me to come to the house and check what had happened,” said Maskell.

Eben Fourie, who lives in an outside room at the house, said he and his girlfriend heard the big bang.

“We saw Jade running to this side of the house and when we went to the front, the truck crashed into the house.”

He said David Maskell and his daughter were in Cape Town on holiday. Maskell declined to speak to Weekend Witness yesterday after they flew back to Pietermaritzburg.

Rodney Trenam, of the Msunduzi fire department, said he believed the house would have to be demolished and rebuilt.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said a case of reckless and negligent driving was being investigated.

“The driver left the truck idling when he went to the ATM across the road,” said Jeevan.

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