News24

Steel rips apart woman's face

2010-05-18 00:48

Pretoria - A Pretoria woman's face was ripped open and several of her facial bones and teeth were shattered when someone apparently threw a piece of steel through the windscreen of the car in which she and her husband were travelling.

If it hadn't been for the fact that her husband is an experienced paramedic, 41-year-old Susan Taljaard, from Wonderboom South, probably wouldn't have survived.

The couple were driving in an easterly direction in Van der Hoff Road in Pretoria on Saturday at 11:40.

Abie Taljaard said he heard glass breaking and thought it must have been a stone that hit the windscreen.

"But when my wife looked at me, there was a hole where her face was supposed to be.

"She immediately started turning blue, her legs stiffened, her eyes became watery and she was making gurgling sounds."

Abie Taljaard, who has been a paramedic at the Akasia fire station for thirteen years, stopped the car.

"I pressed the sides of the wound together and applied pressure. Then I cleared her airway by turning her onto her side so the blood could run out. I also did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

25km in 9 minutes

"When she started breathing again, I clamped her head under my arm to keep her motionless while I still applied pressure to the wound. I put the car in 'drive' and then I raced to the Eugène Marais hospital."

Abie said he covered 25km in nine minutes and must have been doing between 170km/h and 180km/h. Once they reached the hospital, he drove right up to the entrance and repeatedly pressed on the hooter.

"The personnel came running to help us."

The entire left side of Susan's face was ripped open.

Her cheekbone, jaw and teeth were pulverised, and she has deep cuts under the eye and between the eyes. The triangular piece of steel which hit her, is about 25cm long, 15cm wide and 20mm thick.

She is currently in the hospital's intensive care unit.

According to her husband, doctors intended to perform an operation on Monday evening which would take about four hours to try to attach plates in her cheek and jaw, and to clean and stitch up the wounds.

Niki Middleton, Susan's mother, said her son-in-law's medical experience saved her daughter's life.

"Even the hospital personnel said that if he didn't know what he was doing, she would have died," said Middleton.