Sculptor, sports enthusiast dies after hang gliding accident

2011-04-09 00:00

WORLD-acclaimed sculptor and sport enthusiast Bruce McClunan died in hospital after a hang-gliding accident in Bulwer a week ago.

McClunan (54) was taken off the ventilator on Thursday night and died peacefully in the presence of his family and friends at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Trauma intensive care unit.

Speaking to Weekend Witness, his son Daemon, who is a doctor at Grey’s Hospital, said because of his father’s extensive neck and spinal injuries, he would not have survived without the assistance of the ventilator.

“He died at around 7 pm. He did not suffer. We are a close family and we were all there talking to him. We were joined by a huge group of his friends who came to support us, which made a big difference.”

Daemon (25) described his dad as very adventurous, family and friends oriented and as someone always on the go.

Daemon affectionately related how his father, who was “addicted” to surfing at the time, saw someone hang gliding for the first time while living in Cape Town. “That was about 20 years ago and he has been doing it ever since,” said Daemon.

McClunan’s daughter Cassandra (29) said her father was a free spirit and no one could tone down his adventurous side. As well as hang gliding, McClunan was a keen rock climber and scuba diver. He also enjoyed swimming, running and cycling.

McClunan is best known for his wildlife bronze sculptures, which include the 600 mm-high Millennium Leopard with 24-carat gold eyes.

A bigger than life-sized statue of King Dinizulu is displayed in Greytown. Another life-size statue of the Isandlwana hero, Mkhosana Biyela, can be found at the Zulu cultural village near Sibaya Casino and Entertainment World.

Fellow sculptor and McClunan’s close friend Llewellyn Davies, who worked with McClunan for the past 26 years, said he will be best remembered for his generous spirit.

“He was a very fine artist, one of South Africa’s best. He had a huge spirit, a great sense of adventure and he affected everyone he came into contact with,” said an emotional Davies.

Davies first met McClunan in 1984 after McClunan, who was then a sign writer, contacted him wanting to pursue fine art professionally.

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