Horrific taxi crash kills seven

2016-04-20 06:00
 PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT Rescue personnel at the scene of the crash where a taxi lost control travelling down Sweetwaters Road, smashing into a car before it rolled, killing seven passengers on Monday.

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT Rescue personnel at the scene of the crash where a taxi lost control travelling down Sweetwaters Road, smashing into a car before it rolled, killing seven passengers on Monday.

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SCREAMING for help, frantic taxi passengers tried to climb out of a run-away taxi’s windows moments before it crashed in Sweetwaters Road on Monday morning, killing six people instantly.

Another passenger was pronounced dead on Monday afternoon in a Pietermaritzburg hospital.

It is believed the taxi’s brakes failed, causing it to speed uncontrollably down Sweetwaters Road, narrowly missing the car a mother and her small daughter were travelling in before colliding with another car and overturning, landing on a verge on Linwood Drive.

The taxi was carrying 16 passengers.

Police cars, ambulances and fire trucks swarmed around the twisted frame of the taxi as injured commuters lay moaning and wailing between six dead bodies, thrown from the taxi when it collided with the car and rolled.

With silver foil blankets covering the bodies strewn across the road and verge, emergency services worked frantically to stabilise the other 10 injured passengers, rushing them to various hospitals in Pietermaritzburg.

Linwood Drive resident Thuli Msomi was leaving for work when she saw the taxi speeding towards her.

“I thought I was living my last day when I saw the taxi flying straight at me,” said Msomi.

“I saw the speed it was coming towards me at and thought that was it.

“I felt the taxi hit my car and I heard the crash. I only realised I was still alive when a man came and knocked on my window and asked if I was okay,” she said.

“I saw bodies flying through the air and when I got out of the car, what I saw was unexplainable.

“I was in such shock, I could not believe I was alive and I am lucky my children still have a mother,” she said.

Msomi said she got out of her car in a daze, running back to her house down the road, screaming and shaking when she saw her three children.

Msomi’s son, Wandile, said when his mom ran back into the house, she was in hysterics.

“We all just hugged her and tried to calm her down and when we went outside we saw bodies and people crying everywhere.”

Msomi said it was a miracle that she made it out of an accident where seven people died with only a bruised wrist.

Mother and Pietermaritzburg resident Melissa Fawell said the speeding taxi missed her car by centimetres.

“It was horrific. I had my two-year-old daughter in the car with me when I looked at my rear-view mirror and saw the taxi speeding towards me.

“I managed to swerve to the left, and I could see he [the driver] tried to swerve to the right before driving over the island and into Linwood Drive.

“It looked as if his brakes had failed further up the hill and people were hanging out of the window, screaming, trying to escape.

“I saw it take the front off a car in Linwood Drive and when it crashed, people went flying and there was just crying and screaming.

“It was like a movie. If the taxi hit me, if I hadn’t swerved, my daughter would be dead, and I probably would be too,” she said.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the driver had been arrested on a charge of culpable homicide and an investigation into how the accident occurred was underway.

RESIDENT Suzette Meiring said she was in the kitchen drinking coffee when she heard a loud bang.

“I heard brakes screeching, the impact and the taxi rolling. Then the screaming started,” she said.

“I’m a nurse, so I ran out and tried to help. I saw the car and then saw all the bodies scattered everywhere and people screaming.

“There were so many people, I didn’t know where to start. I helped where I could but there were so many people with horrible head wounds,” she said.

A Linwood Drive resident, who would not be named, said he heard the taxi “roaring” down the road and then a bang.

Another resident, Stacey Caldecott, said she was just about to leave to take her daughter to school when she heard about the accident from her domestic worker.

“We need speed humps down this road,” she said. “A few months ago we had a bus crash on this road and today six [seven] people died.” — WR.


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