Stander’s wife mourns ‘the love of my life’

2013-01-06 10:00

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Cherise Stander said she bears no ill will toward the taxi driver who hit and killed her husband, Burry Stander, at KwaZulu-Natal’s Shelly Beach.

“But I do feel a person must be held responsible for his actions.

“It would’ve taken the driver two seconds to stop .... but then it claimed a life.”

South African mountain bike champion Stander was on his bike when the taxi hit him.

He died at the scene.

His wife, also a top cyclist, was still too distraught to speak to the media herself yesterday, but relayed her feelings in the wake of her husband’s death via family spokesperson Zoon Cronjé.

Cronje said they did not want to speculate on exactly what had happened on Thursday, but the scene of the accident was at a stop street barely 100m from Stander’s bicycle shop.

“We were at the post mortem this morning. There’s not a scratch on Burry’s body. He probably broke his neck,” Cronjé said.

Cherise says she knows nothing will bring her husband back, but she also does not want him to be forgotten.

She was totally overwhelmed by the response to the formation of the Burry Stander Foundation to improve the safety of cyclists.

She hopes it will bring great changes for other cyclists, and also means to become involved herself.

“Burry was always paranoid about cars. On group rides, he was always the one who kept all the other cyclists in place,” Cherise said.

“Just the other day, the two of us went out for a ride, and I went down a gorge quite fast. He gave me quite a ticking off.

“Burry always said I must remember that even if a car is coming from the front, you must think for the driver too.”

The day before his death, the Standers went out for a ride in a big group.

“There were quite a lot of punctures, and every time it was Burry who dropped behind to go and help.

“He might have been a rough, tough mountain biker on the outside, but inside he was the salt of the earth.”

Cherise described her husband as the “centrepiece” of the family.

“That’s why everyone is so devastated now. I show pictures of group rides to my father-in-law, Charles, and he gets tears in his eyes he’s so proud.”

According to Cronjé, the messages of sympathy being received from all around the world are a great support for the family in this difficult time.

The couple were married last year.

For the South African mountain biking community, Stander was a legend.

“For me, he was my best friend, the love of my life ... and also a hero,” Cherise said.

»?Stander’s memorial service will be held in Port Shepstone on Thursday.

Several international cyclists have indicated that they will send videos to be shown at the service.

Details of the service, and a space for people to send their messages of condolence, will be announced on Burry Stander’s official Facebook page.

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