N3 closed for 9 hours

2014-11-01 00:00

FOUR people were killed in a string of crashes involving 27 vehicles at Van Reenen’s Pass yesterday, shutting down the N3 in both directions for almost nine hours.

The vehicles collided at two separate locations eight kilometres apart, as thick fog blanketed the treacherous section of road.

Fourteen were injured and rushed to hospital.

An in-depth probe into the crashes is expected, with recovery experts and emergency personnel working into the evening to clear the accident scenes, which stretched over kilometres.

ER24 spokesperson Russell Meiring said it appeared the first string of accidents started with a truck, which apparently lost control and collided with other vehicles.

“Paramedics found the truck had jackknifed across the road, colliding with a number of other vehicles,” he said.

In the second accident, 14 trucks and six vehicles collided, claiming the lives of four people.

Passengers trapped in their vehicles were rescued by paramedics, who used the Jaws of Life to free them.

While the cause of the accident could not be confirmed by EMS personnel, it is understood that misty and drizzling conditions may have contributed to the crash.

The freeway was closed off from the Johannesburg interchange, which forced motorists to use alternative routes.

Traffic was diverted to Ladysmith, Newcastle and to the Amajuba Pass via the Bergville Plaza. The highway re-opened after 4 pm.

Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said there was a high volume of vehicles entering the province due to the month-end and ahead of the funeral of slain Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa, whose funeral is being held in Durban today.

A senior KZN Transport Department official, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press, confirmed that a high-level delegation of accident investigators would probe the crash.

“At this stage, considering the amount of people who have died, a serious investigation is needed,” he said.

Any crash in which four people or more are killed is probed by a national team, mandated by the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business chief executive officer Melanie Veness said: “An incident of that magnitude that affects the country’s main operational route would have a negative impact on business because it connects provinces.”

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