Runner’s horror death

2013-02-11 00:00

A RUNNER was cut in half by a speeding car while jogging with his partner in Alexandra Road Extension on Saturday morning.

Accountant Neil Robinson (60) and his partner of a decade, Lynn-Rae van den Berg (43), were both training for the Maritzburg Marathon to be held on February 24 when the accident happened at about 8 am.

Van den Berg was too distraught to speak to The Witness yesterday, but provided a photograph of her and Robinson after they completed the Maritzburg half-marathon in 2011.

The accident was witnessed by Sonya Breytenbach while driving with her son Chaz.

“I was on my way to Maritzburg Christian School for my son’s ball skills day.”

Along Alexandra Road Extension Breytenbach saw Robinson and Van den Berg, running on the side of the road. She then saw a white Hyundai Getz coming towards them at speed. “I saw him drift across the road and then he obviously realised that he was on our side of the road and was about to hit another car, a bakkie, that was in front of us.”

The driver tried to avoid a collision and moved back to his side of the road “but he was going so fast that he lost control of his car and hit the male runner, luckily the lady runner was a little behind him and wasn’t hurt at all,” said Breytenbach.

“I stopped the car and got out. She was saying ‘My partner, my partner’. His body was cut clean in half … the pieces were about five metres apart.”

The Hyundai Getz rolled and came to a stop and the driver got out, said Breytenbach.

“There was blood on his head. He had taken off his white T-shirt and put it on his head.”

“I walked up to him and asked him if he realised that the man was in two pieces and his response was ‘I didn’t do it on purpose’.”

Breytenbach said the scene was so horrific she didn’t want her son to see it so she drove him to school and dropped him off before returning and trying to console Van den Berg.

“I can’t get the horrible scene out of my head. It’s not something you expect to see — things like this happen in the movies, they don’t happen in real life,” said Breytenbach.

Alexandra Road Extension resident Nasheera Maharaj was just opening her front door to leave for the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in Alexandra Park “when I heard these sounds and saw this white thing fly past — it went by so fast.

“The driver of the white car hit the motorised gates, the palisade panels and then continued onto the neighbours’ property.”

The first that Maharaj’s neighbour Henrietta Whelan knew of the accident was when she heard the sound of the crash. “My first thought was ‘oh no not another accident’ — we’ve had so many in the last two years along this road. Then I heard a woman screaming. Then my husband said someone’s taken out our front gate.”

Whelan said she regularly saw the couple jogging.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said they were investigating a case of culpable homicide with the possibility of adding a charge of reckless and negligent driving.

Jeevan said the driver received “serious but not critical head injuries” and is currently in hospital in a stable condition.

The driver’s name is known to The Witness, but he cannot be named as no charges have been laid. He is thought to be around 20 years of age.

The police have appealed to any witnesses of the accident, particularly the driver of the bakkie, to come forward. They are requested to contact the investigating officer, Sergeant Samantha Kerr, on 033 845 7724 or 076 437 9439.

NEIL Robinson was an accountant with Britz Blore and Associates, a firm of chartered accountants in Clarendon, where he had been employed for nearly a decade.

He had previously been a manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Robinson’s sister, Sharon O’Hara, is also a runner and a member of the Carbineers Athletics Club, the organisers of the Maritzburg Marathon.

She said her brother was also a keen cricketer and played with Alex Old Boys.

Robinson’s close friend Clive Wills told The Witness: “This is an utter tragedy. Neil was a top-of-the-range person and very popular.”

Robinson was a good all-round sportsman and had been under consideration for the Natal B-side cricket team, said Wills.

Robinson was a long-time member of the Lynnwood Club, where he was a member of the A bowls team.

Wills said he was one of the top provincial bowlers.

“He was top skip in the Natal Inland Bowling Association and played over 100 games for the province.”

Club president Doug Butler said Robinson was a “phenomenal, likeable bloke and a very good bowler. He was a wonderful person”.

The Maritzburg Marathon’s John Hall said organisers were “absolutely devastated” by the loss. He offered sincerest condolences to Robinson’s family and friends.

“We view safety as paramount and obviously we will be taking more precautions. We just ask for people to be patient and respect each other so that everyone can get on with their activities,” said Hall.

As well as Van den Berg, his partner of ten years, Robinson leaves two children from his first marriage, a son Bradley and a daughter Leanne, who are both accountants.

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