Driver: I tried not to hit Mackay

2009-04-10 00:00

THE man who ran over Australian rugby player Shawn Mackay has spoken of how he desperately tried to avoid hitting the Brumbies star, who died on Monday this week.

In an interview with the Weekly Gazzette of Durban, Michael Bonginkosi Phungula (37) said through his lawyer, Theasan Pillay, that he tried to avoid the accident, but it was beyond his control.

Phungula, who works for a security firm, said a large number of vehicles were parked on either side of Umgeni Road, Durban, in the early hours of Sunday, March 29, and as he approached “I noticed a man running from the opposite lane of the road towards the concrete island … I feared that he might cross my lane. I slowed down and pressed on the hooter.”

Phungula said he got the impression that Mackay had heeded his hooter and was stopping.

But “all of a sudden the man ran across my path … I applied brakes and tried to swerve. I had swerved my vehicle to the left and had crossed over on to as much of the left lane that was available.”

Despite “frantic” efforts, Phungula was unable to avoid Mackay.

Phungula said he pulled over a short distance away, but as he saw a group of people running towards his vehicle, he feared for his life.

“The manner in which they were approaching me caused me to have the impression that they were going to be violent and that my life was in danger.”

He said he drove off and then made a U-turn back, as paramedics were there attending to Mackay and Phungula felt assured of his safety. He then got out of his car, he said.

Mackay suffered a cervical spinal fracture and dislocation, his skull was fractured, his leg broken and he had multiple facial fractures. Doctors said he improved after he was brought out of a medically induced coma following spinal surgery, but he then developed an infection in his bloodstream. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he died of cardiac arrest.

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