Tree tells the story of car accident 15 years ago

2016-12-07 14:03
Gavin and Rika Dry with their kids LillianRose, 4, and AlihGrace, 1, at the tree. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

Gavin and Rika Dry with their kids LillianRose, 4, and AlihGrace, 1, at the tree. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth - On the N9 between Noupoort and Middelburg is a Thornless Honeylocust tree which "holds" a piece of a car that crashed into it 15 years ago.

"It tells a story," Rika Dry of Cradock told Netwerk24, "our story."

Dry, 35, crashed into the tree 15 years ago, after a piece of a wheel drum smashed through her car's windscreen and hit her in the face. 

"The tree has got willpower. The accident had given it a huge knock, it’s since died, was chopped down – and then started growing again. We’ve taken home some of the wreckage which it has been 'keeping' for us,” Dry said.

Her mother, Rosette Langenhoven, 61, who was in the passenger seat, was injured as well. Two friends in the back seat were unhurt. 

"I remember it like yesterday," said Dry.

"I was a student working at a supermarket for the holidays, in Noupoort. The rain was bucketing down. I was knocked unconscious when the wheel drum hit me. From what I’ve gathered, the car left the road and we hit the tree at full speed after bursting through a fence."

The wheel drum narrowly missed her nose, throat and tongue. 

"If I can put it this way, it hit me perfectly so as not to kill me," said Dry.

"When we came to a stop, I drifted in and out of consciousness. I apparently had breathing problems before being taken to hospital. 

"What I do remember is shouting for my mother. She was trapped in the wreckage. A man came along and kept her calm until she could be freed. We still don’t know who the man was, but if I could track him down, I just want to thank him. He supported my mom when I couldn’t."

Dry, her husband Gavin, and their two children visited the scene of the accident on Sunday, 15 years after it had happened. 

"I’ve been back before, three weeks after the accident and about five years ago as well. However, I’d never seen the piece of metal from our car stuck in the tree.

"My mom didn’t do so well after the crash. She even developed diabetes from the shock, but she doesn’t let it get her down. I think we’re like the tree. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The miracle of life and surviving."


The tree has grown around a part of the car that got stuck in it. (Supplied)

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  accidents

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