WW2 vet hurt in golf cart crash

2012-01-09 00:00

A CASUAL game of golf turned into a near tragedy for 90-year-old Robin “Pinkey” Yeats, a WW2 veteran and Tomahawk pilot, at the Victoria Country Club on Saturday.

He survived the war but nearly came undone by a rogue golf cart that ran him over as he lined up to hit a stroke on the ninth hole.

Yeats was preparing to get his ball out of the bunker when another golfer accidentally rammed into Yeats’s golf cart. According to an eyewitness at the club, the unmanned golf cart went careering down the slope towards Yeats. Focusing on the ball, he did not see the cart rolling towards him as it picked up speed. It struck him and rolled over him.

His son John, a doctor, who was playing a hole behind Yeats, was horrified and ran to assist his father, who was in great pain. Emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene immediately.

ER24’s spokesperson Andre Visser said it was suspected on site that he had a broken hip and possibly a broken leg.

A source at the club said: “Yeats was a regular golfer. He was elderly but quite a live wire. He used the golf carts to drive between holes, but he enjoyed a regular game once or twice a week and played with his son quite often.”

Yeats is currently being treated at the Pietermaritzburg Medi-Clinic and is in the Intensive Care Unit. Staff were not able to comment on his condition yesterday.

John Yeats, the injured man’s son, said his father had been operated on and was doing “as well as can be expected. He has a broken bone in his leg and fractured pelvis, they have already operated on him. But we expect that he’ll come out okay, he’s a tough guy.”

In 1941 Yeats suffered severe burns after serving in the war. He was shot down by German war planes while protecting cruising ships. Severely burned, he bailed into the sea — only to be nearly drowned by the destroyer that had stopped to collect him. He was swept under the vessel and dragged down by the weight of his parachute. His severe burns saw him off active duty for more than a year.

Robin Yeats is not the only one to be undone by a golf cart recently. In November last year, Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso was run over by a golf cart driven by a fellow judge. Her injuries — multiple fractures and broken bones from her neck to her pelvis, two punctured lungs and a ruptured spleen — were life threatening. Her daughter Belinda said this week that Traverso was on the road to recovery.

“She has a long way to go to be fully recovered, but she is home and today she is in the sun enjoying a glass of wine. But she is unable to walk yet and there is lots of physiotherapy and work ahead.”

Traverso had wanted to use the golf cart to travel between holes as she was recovering from a recent double knee replacement operation when the tragedy happened.

THE American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that injuries from golf carts have rocketed by 132% since 2000, involving injuries to people aged from two months to 96 years old.

Reasons given include that modern carts are more powerful, reaching speeds of 50 km and that these vehicles are now used in many environments other than golf courses without controlling laws.

In 2010, there were 19 560 injuries from golf carts. The most common injuries are from falling off the back.

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