Hero’s shock death after catching robber

2014-10-02 00:00

MOMENTS after catching a robber who tried to hijack a woman in Montclair, Durban, a man collapsed and died from a suspected heart attack.

The Good Samaritan has been hailed a hero by community members who watched helplessly as he took his last breath.

At about 9 am yesterday, an apparently perfectly healthy Gregory Berry (59), a part-time mechanic at Natal Pamphlets Distributors, drove down Kenyon Howden Road to the local Alpha Pharm pharmacy to fetch medicine.

He parked his car and noticed medical rep Courtney Fennell (26) being attacked by three men attempting to hijack her car. Fennell screamed for help and many working on the busy road came to her aid.

The suspects ran down the road and Berry jumped into his vehicle, chased after one of them and caught him.

An excited Berry drove back to the pharmacy to wait for the police.

“I got him, I got him,” boasted Berry proudly. He collapsed shortly after that.

Pam Golding agent Zunaid Sather was about to light a cigarette when he heard people screaming for help.

“He was lying on his back and his face was red and I could see that he was struggling to breathe,” Sather said.

“His chest was jerking and we turned him on his side to help him breathe.”

Sather said he watched helplessly as Berry lifted his arm from his chest and covered his face and then, seconds later, lay still. “I was devastated because this man died while trying to help an innocent person. He was being a Good Samaritan,” Sather said.

Shane Young spoke to Berry moments before he collapsed. “After we spoke, I turned my back on him and then when I turned back to face him, he was on the floor shaking.

“His tongue was out and I could see that he was having some kind of a fit.”

Rescue Care paramedic Garrith Jamieson said Berry was declared dead at the scene.

A senior pharmacist, who asked not to be named, said a doctor from Southern Group Family Practice rushed to the scene but it was too late.

Describing Berry, he said: “He was very friendly and pleasant. It is a great loss for the community. It’s most unfortunate that he was the hero but ended this way.”

Berry’s only son, Garreth (30), said his father died the way he lived. “He was such a helpful community man. He was full of life, fun and nonsense sometimes. But everyone appreciated his straight-forward nature.”

Police spokesperson Jay Naicker said two men will appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court tomorrow for a case of attempted hijacking.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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