'Reckless' driver killed kids - MEC

2010-08-25 22:11

Johannesburg - The deaths of nine school children on Wednesday were due to a "reckless" driver who overtook several cars to get across a railway crossing, Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said.

"I am devastated that young people lost their lives and others sustained injuries on their way to school because of the utter recklessness of the driver," he said in a statement.

"According to police and witnesses, a minibus taxi overtook several cars stopped at the crossing, and was struck by a train while attempting to navigate across the track between the lowered booms."

Four other children were in a critical condition in hospital while the driver remained in a stable condition at Kuils River hospital.

Carlisle visited the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath, on Buttskop Road, outside Cape Town earlier on Wednesday and conveyed his condolences to the affected families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

He vowed to work hard with the relevant authorities to ensure there was no repeat of such an incident.

"I will keep a close eye on the investigation to ensure that justice is served. I will also work together with Metrorail and law enforcement agencies to do everything humanly possible to ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen again."

Bodies lying around

Chris de Vos, secretary general of the United Transport and Allied Union (Utatu), said he rushed to the site to help the train driver and conductor because they were in shock.

"They are currently with the psychologists. You can understand when a train stops after hitting a kombi load of children... .You just see bodies of children lying around.

"It can come back to you four five, 10 years later," he said.

Utatu conducted its own investigation and initial indications were that other cars had already stopped after the booms were lowered, but a minibus taxi came from behind and "zig-zagged" past the booms and over the rails.

"How could this have been prevented, people ask," said de Vos.

"Three or four vehicles had already stopped. The booms went down, but the length of the booms does not stop another vehicle from driving around."

De Vos said the booms only blocked the left side of the road in each direction.

Take a chance

"He (the taxi driver) thought he was still going to take a chance and make it before the train, and people tend to misjudge the speed of a train.

"There are still people who believe that a train driver can reduce speed. It takes about five or six hundred metres, depending on the speed (and) the gradient, for the train to stop."

De Vos said it looked as though the taxi was flung into the air by the impact.

The Railway Safety Regulator said after a preliminary investigation inspectors concluded that a possible mistake on the part of the taxi driver may have caused the crash in Blackheath.

"The flashing lights and booms were found to be in working order. The level crossing is also marked by road signage. This is the maximum level of protection which can be afforded to a level crossing," the regulator said.

"In light of the above measures, preliminary indications point towards possible negligent vehicle driver behaviour at the crossing point."

The taxi was taking 13 children to school.

President Jacob Zuma and Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele, who were on a state visit to China, sent a message of condolence to the families of the children.

- SAPA
Read more on:    robin carlisle  |  cape town  |  accidents  |  schoolbus tragedy
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.