Road workers run for their lives to escape doomed truck

2011-03-25 00:00

GRASS cutters and traffic officers working on the N3 in Pietermaritzburg had the fright of their lives yesterday morning as a truck careened towards them, only to crash into a nearby bridge, leaving the truck driver and his assistant with serious injuries and the highway blocked for hours.

The group of about 20 grass cutters and two Road Traffic Inspectorate officers said the truck nearly hit them as it lost control on the N3 southbound under the Woodhouse Road bridge at about 10 am.

“The injuries on the driver’s face were so serious that we could not look at him. His head was covered in blood,” said an eyewitness, Menzi Cele.

Eawell Mweli (41) was driving the truck belonging to Baker’s Frozen Food company to deliver goods in Camperdown with Ali Essop.

Under the Woodhouse Road bridge the grass cutters were helping two traffic officers, Michele Price and Ziphezinhle Ndaba, to pick up loads of cardboard that had earlier blown off another truck.

“As we were clearing the cardboard off the northbound lane this truck veered off the southbound lane across the median into the northbound lane before it crashed against the pillar of the bridge. We had to run for cover as it was coming straight to us,” said Cele.

Essop was taken to Northdale Hospital while it took about an hour for Msunduzi Municipality firefighters to free Mweli from the wreck. Netcare911 airlifted Mweli to Medi-Clinic Hospital.

RE24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said the victims sustained head injuries and broken legs.

As a result of the accident traffic on the N3 came to a halt for a few hours. Witness employee Galen Schultz said he was delayed for about two hours while driving to work.

Police are investigating a case of negligence and reckless driving.

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