Paraglider crash scene too gruesome to go back to

2014-06-02 00:00

THE crash scene at which two experienced paragliders died in Gerhardsville, west of Pretoria, on Saturday was so gruesome that one would not want to go back to it.

This is how a farm worker known only as Tendai, described the crash yesterday. Nico Basson and Laurie Frates, both in their forties, had died on Saturday morning at about 7 am when their tandem paraglider plummeted out of the sky over a farm just some six kilometres from the Flying Un­limited flight school where they had taken off.

Just before the paragliders’ fatal fall, Tendai heard a strange noise overhead and then a bang as the aircraft hit the ground.

He ran to the scene to see if he could help the pilots but said neither of the people in the plane had survived the crash.

He said it was clear both were dead, and he called to notify his employer.

Tendai then gave directions to the Tshwane emergency services on how to reach the scene of the crash.

“It was so bad, I did not want to go look at it a second time.”

Johan Pieterse of the Tshwane emergency services said they and other paramedics had been called to the scene and could confirm the two men were dead on the scene.

The paramedics also discouraged the survivors’ family members from visiting the scene.

Frates and Basson were both married and both had two children.

Farmers in the area also raced to the scene to help.

Members of the Flying Un­limited flight school held a memorial service for the two men on Saturday.

Tony Gibson, owner of the flight school, said the two flew at least four days a week.

“They were members of the Naked Brothers Band. You are accepted as member on your hundredth flight, which is usually done in the nude.”

Gibson said Frates was the calmest person he knew.

“His heart was open to everyone.”

He said Basson also had a heart of gold. “I will miss his big laugh that would come from his stomach.”

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