Ambulance crash - alcohol found in vehicle
Johannesburg - An Eastern Cape accident on Wednesday, in which three St Elizabeth Hospital patients died and nine others were injured, may have been caused by drunk driving, the health department said.
Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the accident occurred on the R61 road near Lusikisiki, where a patient transport vehicle collided with a truck.
"A few broken bottles of alcohol were found in the patient transport vehicle," he said.
The driver of the vehicle was transporting 12 patients from Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital back to St Elizabeth Hospital, after they had received specialist care.
"They collided head on with a truck... three patients, two males, and one female, died instantly."
All the patients were adults. The nine others were seriously injured and taken to hospital, while the driver was in a critical condition.
The injured were all taken to St Barnabas Hospital.
"We were totally shocked to find the alcohol in the vehicle. You are not permitted to transport alcohol in a state-owned car."
The department was working with doctors and police to have blood tests done on the driver. This would indicate whether he was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
"Even if he is under the legal limit, but is found with slightest amount of alcohol in his blood, we will institute disciplinary procedures.
"Action will also be taken in a court of law, in terms of traffic rules," Kupelo said.