Car plunges off bridge onto rocks

2013-06-08 00:00

TWO women escaped death when their vehicle plunged off a bridge on the R103 into the Umgeni River near the Midmar Dam yesterday.

The Hyundai SUV went out of control and crashed through the guardrail, landing on its roof on a rocky outcrop, which in summer is generally under water.

Midmar Dam security guard Cyril Dladla said he heard a loud bang, but initially thought it was a truck until a colleague told him that a car had just plunged into the river.

“Our divers who were working on maintaining the sluice gates immediately responded to the scene,” he said. He added that if it were not for the divers’ quick reaction, the situation could have been worse.

Onlookers told Weekend Witness they were “amazed” at how lucky the women were with their vehicle having landed just metres away from the flowing river.

Subtech Group diver Duncan Sharratt said: “We heard a loud bang, but it took us a while to see the vehicle. I initially thought someone was shooting at the cattle.”

He said they found the driver lying on top of the unconscious passenger inside the vehicle. Sharratt said they had to remove the bridge guardrail, which had attached itself to the SUV’s door, so that the door could be opened.“We could remove the driver but we had to cut her seatbelt first,” said Sharratt.

On arrival, ER24 paramedics and the SAPS K9 Search and Rescue Unit hoisted the driver back onto the bridge and placed her in an ambulance. They used the jaws of life to extricate the passenger, who was airlifted to the Pietermaritzburg Mediclinic.

ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said: “The driver had a suspected neck and back injury while the passenger sustained multiple injuries requiring immediate air extraction. Both patients were stabilised on the scene.”

Mediclinic client services manager Reshnee Beekrum would not release the names of the women on their request. She said they were still undergoing medical examination to determine the seriousness of their injuries.

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