It was an accident - driver who hit impala

2012-05-08 11:07

Polokwane - The driver of a delivery truck who was fined R2 500 after he hit and killed at least seven impala in the Kruger National Park says it was a freak accident and he's innocent.

reported that Earnest Hickman, 51, was apparently only driving at 52km/h but this was too fast, said a SANParks spokesperson.

According to SANParks, speeding was the cause of the incident.

Freak accident

Hickman said it was a freak accident, “I feel awful, but I’m innocent.”

He claimed he and seven colleagues in two vehicles had exceeded the 50km/h speed limit slightly in order to make the Skukuza gates, which closed at 18:00.

He said the impala had come “out of nowhere” and run across the road.

He tried to brake, but the trailer was heavily loaded and he couldn't stop in time.

"If I could have avoided the accident, I would have. I feel I am being unfairly crucified for something I could not control."

Beeld last week reported how American tourists had seen the accident and reported seeing impala fly through the air as well as lots of blood.

The Star reported that SANParks officials are now considering banning him from entering the park.

  • winston.mullany - 2012-05-08 11:11

    Yeah Right!!!!

      rynhardt.ferreira - 2012-05-08 11:20

      He should have known better to drive at that speed with a fully laiden trailer in the Kruger. This is a BS story, I see these clowns speed in the Kruger on a regular basis. Lock this prick up!!! I'm tired of people doing what they want to!! Since the park has gone under new management it has just deteriorated into a pile of crap. Speeders, poachers, what next!!

      Squeegee - 2012-05-08 11:23

      The delivery trucks are the worst - they spoil it for others. Fine them!

      Kala - 2012-05-08 11:30

      The skid marks stretch foe quite a distance as shown in that photo. I also only count 5 Impala in that specific picture which means there are possibly two behind where the photographer stood. This means that the skid markes are possibly much longer than we can see.

      PieterJ100 - 2012-05-08 11:54

      If you do a quick calculation as follows: He was driving on asphalt for drag coefficient at about a 5 degree angele with a skidmark of between 50 and 60 meters, lets use 55 meters. Do the calc and you get to a accurate estimate that he was going 110km/h when he hit the animals, not 52km/h like he states!! He says it was an accident, an accident is something that means no-one is to blame. He is to blame so it wasnt an accident.

      veldt66 - 2012-05-08 12:05

      Hickman, the impalas came from nowhere? My ass, didnt u know u were in a national park? Bloody idiot.

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-05-08 13:08

      PieterJ100 : Whilst I agree with you that there is only one person to blame for the deaths, I should caution you about your calculations. Skidmarks tell you exactly nothing.The assumptions you made are not enough to arrive at a meaningful answer in regard to speed prior to the buckslaughter.

      elani.theunissen - 2012-05-08 14:02

      He hit these impalas just after 17h00, its 12km to Kruger Gate, from that 4way stop he had an hour to get to the gate, knowing his trailer was full he should drive slower and those skidmarks is not from driving 52km/h.. Dean(Nhongo safaris) had to take this "excuse of a human's" keys out of his vehicle, as he wanted to drive off, not taking responsability. Him and the company he works for, shivers, from Polokwane, should be banned from the park and I hope people will boycot them!! You disgust me. Maybe I should drive 52km/h with a trailer and have you "run into" my vehicle. I'll pay the insurance access with a smile.

      elani.theunissen - 2012-05-08 14:51

      Correction: Insurance excess

      Simon - 2012-05-08 15:19

      Let us not forget that speed limits actually serve to limit the MAXIMUM speed permitted. Had good road craft/driving skills been present, the driver would have reduced his speed a lot more, so that he could allow time to stop for unexpected things like game in a game reserve!

  • John - 2012-05-08 11:12

    speed limit says fifty drive fifty, plan your trip so you can get to the gate on time

  • Robert - 2012-05-08 11:14

    Maybe he should have planned his day better so that he did not have to speed to get to camp. no excuse, GUILTY

  • Piet - 2012-05-08 11:14

    Yeah Right, so you drove over 7 of them at 50km/ph. What do you think we are idiots. I have seen truck fly on that piece of road!

      Pule - 2012-05-08 11:26


      Johan - 2012-05-08 11:42


      Pule - 2012-05-08 12:20

      Johan you're 100% correct,K is kelvin,k is kilo then m is meter...h is an hour..

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-05-08 13:10

      Good man, Pule.

  • henningvw - 2012-05-08 11:16

    Every single controvercial story on earth starts with denial, and ends up with proven guilt

  • jim.linsell - 2012-05-08 11:17

    52! Maybe it was 51.357 kph?

  • Michael - 2012-05-08 11:18

    ban him...that all what a joke should get community service

  • Martin - 2012-05-08 11:20

    Sanparks should charge him with poaching, 50km per hour will not spread impala that far down the road, you say you were doing 52, how the hek do you know that for sure, i have seen no speedometer with incriments like that.

      Kala - 2012-05-08 11:27

      A Ferrari 458 Italia does. But I don't think he was pulling his trailer with a Ferrari

  • Lisa - 2012-05-08 11:21

    If you look at the skid marks he was doing way over 50. An earlier article I read said he overtook another car at high speed. He then wanted to drive off without waiting for officials to arrive. The driver of the car he overtook stopped him. R2500.00 fine is pathetic for this type of behavior.

  • georgebrightons - 2012-05-08 11:24

    Apology Accepted Earnest! Business as usual. RIP impalas. \To Err is Too Human\

      Piet - 2012-05-08 11:31

      Have a purple Smartie!

      Marni - 2012-05-11 08:35

      Who made you judge and jury, George? You say "apology accepted" and everything is fine? Sounds like you and your family are the ones (or condones the behaviour of those) who go into the Kruger, music blaring, climbing out of vehicles to take pictures of lions, elephants and hippos and show a general disregard for the rules and regulations. Then, when you get caught you say "sorry" and expect to be sent on your way. Unfortunately, my friend, life doesn't work like that - you do the crime, you do the time. Hickman got off very lightly and the least SanParks can do is to ban him and his employer/company from the Kruger and any other parks in SA. Oh, and it's "to err is human..."

  • Vanessa - 2012-05-08 11:24

    You could not control??? You admit that you exceeded the speed limit. Sorry, if you're looking for sympathy, it's in the dictionary between "sex" and "syphillis"...

  • E=MC2 - 2012-05-08 11:26

    so how fast were you going then?

      PieterJ100 - 2012-05-08 11:56

      If you do a quick calculation as follows: He was driving on asphalt for drag coefficient at about a 5 degree angele with a skidmark of between 50 and 60 meters, lets use 55 meters. Do the calc and you get to a accurate estimate that he was going 110km/h when he hit the animals, not 52km/h like he states!! He says it was an accident, an accident is something that means no-one is to blame. He is to blame so it wasnt an accident.

  • Liz - 2012-05-08 11:27

    I am thoroughly disgusted and completely shattered - the only sanctuary left in our country is being completely decimated. His fine should be R2500 PER animal. I have seen a speeding driver hit and kill a male zebra in the park and he got away with it. It's the Kruger Park - ANIMALS COME OUT OF NOWHERE - that's the whole frikking point you idiot! What really is the point of banning him from the park forever - in his personal capacity what really would he be losing - jack! He should lose his damn job - that would affect him personally! At what point is San Parks going to wake up and smell the coffee - there is just not enough policing in the Park (now there's a job creation opportunity for you!)I would much rather pay towards protecting our wildlife than pay for parking in a suburban side street ! Really people get your priorities right. Not everything has to do with lining of pockets.

      En - 2012-05-08 11:38

      You're COMPLETELY SHATTERED over the death of a few Impala...God help you if you ever lose a family member. And while you're being emo, you can still pay towards protecting wildlife with or without paying for parking. The two are mutually exclusive. Or are you waiting for someone to give you permission?

      Vanessa - 2012-05-08 11:51

      En: is this article about some person's death or loss? No, it's about the impala. Leave the woman alone to grieve for who and what she wants. You're an idiot for even wasting your time writing the crap you wrote. Animals are sentient beings, capable of love just like you and me. If you don't share the sentiment, then I don't know what you're doing on this specific page.

      En - 2012-05-08 12:30

      HADAYA - I do love animals, love them a lot actually. And Impala happen to be very beautiful majestic creatures. It's sad that they got killed in that way. But let's look at what Liz said... He should lose his job - So the rest of his family should suffer for the next how many years because dad was just being a guy and made a mistake? He said he's sorry. He payed the fine, leave him alone. By the end of today another 5 Impala will be born somewhere, get over it. Policing in the park - Just like people speed in urban settings, I doubt any additional policing would have stopped THIS accident from happening WHEN it did. It was an accident (whether he was wrong or not), get over it. Paying for Parking - Like you said I thought this article was about Impala in Kruger Park, how do those two mix? If she wants to pay to help wildlife there are many avenues to do so. She didn't need this article to make that point. Again, accident...get over it. So when Liz got over-emotional in her post, and News24 gave me the opportunity to "Reply to Liz" I took it. My right, her right, your right.

      Lizette - 2012-05-08 13:15

      Delivery trucks and Rep's should not be allowed to use the road through Kruger as a bypass to their initial destination. Uneccessary trafic through nature

  • henningvw - 2012-05-08 11:27

    52 is his age, not the speed he was doing.

      Antipoaching - 2012-05-08 11:48

      read the article, he's 51 and was travelling, so he claims, at 52km/h

      mike.rockey - 2012-05-08 12:17

      more likely his IQ

  • Dhavandran - 2012-05-08 11:29

    seven impala dead. while he and seven colleagues were travelling in two different vehicles? who's fooling who?

  • Barker - 2012-05-08 11:30

    I see all comments on his speeding, but nothing of his explanation of the Impala coming from nowhere. I was in a similar incident a few years ago, when a herd of Impala rushed out from the undergrowth. Luckily or unluckily, I was able to stop, but had extensive damage to the side and top of my vehicle where animals used the roof as a stepping stone and others could not make it and hit the side of my car. None were killed. A few seconds after this incident, a pair of cheetah came out of the same undergrowth that the Impalas came from. To those that said he should have judged his time better, have you ever made a delivery to Skukuza camp stores? Try arriving early morning and joining the queue of trucks unloading their goods before you, and only able to unload at 17H00 and still get out of the Park on time.

      robbie.crouch - 2012-05-08 11:37

      Planning... it's all in the planning. If deliveries is such a problem should the not overnight rather?

      nico.boshoff - 2012-05-08 11:41

      One rational comment in all of this... Look, the guy should have slowed down with a trailer. He should have known that his braking abilities are impaired by a heavy load. Fine. He was negligent. That's why he was punished. Was the punishment too lenient? Well as a hunter I can tell you that R2500 for 7 Impala is dirt cheap. However, it's a criminal sanction and not representative of market value of the antelope. I think it was a bit light, but let's be serious, you can't lock the guy up for this. And no, this is not poaching. That's an idiotic thing to say! Lastly, I was in the KNP 2 weeks ago and to say it's gone to crap is exactly that...crap. The place is still magical and well kept. They've just gone through a MAJOR flood yet everything was open and up and running. Only 2 major roads still closed to construction and all facilities in order (well at least where we were around Lower Sabie - Skukuza).

      Helmut - 2012-05-08 11:44

      Hi Barker, I think you barking up the wrong tree to say it mildly

      Nosiphom - 2012-05-08 11:53

      Great one Nico. Only rational comment here!

      Lizette - 2012-05-08 13:18

      Not all the delivery trucks trecking through Kruger, delivers in the park itself. It is used as a detour.

      Alan - 2012-05-08 14:22

      @ nico.boshoff. I agree with you entirely. I was in KNP last week and it is immaculate, (apart from elly poo on the roads) and had a wonderful experience.

      Barker - 2012-05-08 15:22

      Now we should look further north. Phalaborwa Gate to Mozambique. This is a nice shortcut for transport companies and holiday makers. Most vehicle have a trailer of sorts, including boats. There is more roadkill in that area as this road is being used as if it were a National Road. @robbie - Skukuza stores should streamline their processes. @Nico - I agree he was negligent and should be punished. The Act which stipulates the fine is clear and the maximum was issued. @Helmut - woof. I am a regular visitor to Kruger spending about 3 weeks of every year there for the last 44 years. The facilities are great and clean. You do get the occasional whiner, that the floor in the toilets is dirty or there is litter lying around. The dirt and the litter are the fault of the visitors. Parks Board staff cannot pick/clean up everything at the same time.

      Jennifer - 2012-05-09 11:34

      hello dude this this the Kruger.. animals come 'out of nowhere' all the time...what part of this do you not understand!!

  • spartanx93 - 2012-05-08 11:32

    Yeah, the impala just jump in front of the truck.........

  • Tamaranui - 2012-05-08 11:34

    Bokke downed.....

  • Shirley - 2012-05-08 11:35

    You were exceeding the speed limit,so you are NOT innocent! The "it just jumped out infront of me" excuse only works on tv ads! You knew where you were and should of been responsible enough to drive as signs requested! You have got off far too lightly!!!!

  • Anakin - 2012-05-08 11:35

    Umm .. 57km/h: no way: even with trailer should be able to stop quickly: where are the skid marks (maybe I'm blind) ; then: why does the Skukuza gates close at 18:00? (It's dark here in Gauteng by then [18h00]for this time of year.) Maybe a suggestion to close at 17h00 instead in winter time, OR put in an electronic automatic "let-out" gatelock on that gate so contractors and vistors alike can get OUT until 20h00, thus removing ANY need for speeding...that principle of "That gate SHALL CLOSE AT 18H00" belongs to a past era of :do as I say or else. Please look at all suggestions to improve saftey for the animals, remove as many reasons for speeding in the first place as possible (what if you get a flat tyre at 17h57?? Must you sleep in the park just to keep the gate authorities happy?)

      Rob - 2012-05-08 12:42

      Cannot see the marks! I think you need to visit your nearest optician and I hope you do not drive! Yes, if you do not plan your day properly or encounter a problem, then stay another night! The fact he was racing to get to the gate in time says it all - he was speeding and only thinking of himself. Guess he didn't make the gate in time! Shame!

  • Peter - 2012-05-08 11:36

    "I feel I am being unfairly crucified for something I could not control." You had complete control over the situation and you choose to speed, what was unfair is how you slaughtered those poor animals

  • revaro.winkler - 2012-05-08 11:40


  • Sean - 2012-05-08 11:44

    "If I could have avoided the accident, I would have. I feel I am being unfairly crucified for something I could not control." Could he have said that had he killed his fellow human, animals are also living things just like us humans.

  • Johann - 2012-05-08 11:44

    (Hickman said it was a freak accident, “I feel awful, but I’m innocent.”) What a assh0le... and off course the impala is in its own habitat and can go anywhere within the park. Remember the grass is always greener on the other side... now 7 are dead... plan your day right Mr Hitman.

  • Mluleki Simelane - 2012-05-08 11:44

    1 or 2 impala is an accident not 7! That's murder

  • Leon - 2012-05-08 11:44

    Hunting charges for Impala is about R1000 per animal. So Start the fine at R7000 (Damages) + R2500 (Speeding) + R10000 (Talking Crap) + R10500 (Causing Trauma to park visitors) R30K @ least!!

      Nosiphom - 2012-05-08 13:06

      Cool calculation!

  • Henk - 2012-05-08 11:44

    feit bly staan jy is nie veronderstel om in die wildtuin te jaag nie!!!! dis geen ongeluk hierdie nie, dit is roekeloos en dis dit! jy hoort nie weer in die wildtuin toegelaat te word nie!!!

      Nicki - 2012-05-08 12:00

      English please.

  • elize12 - 2012-05-08 11:45

    If I understood correctly from previous reports, the said driver apparently overtook other vehicles and then slammed into the Impala? Was this then incorrectly reported? Still no justification for the said driver exceeding the speed limited and he is supposedly to know that whilst carrying a loaded trailer he should have adjusted his speed accordingly. Although I am sure he really didn't mean to harm the animals, he in fact killed 7 of them due to negligence. R2 500,00 fine is not enough - he should be banned from the National Park as well!!

  • Antipoaching - 2012-05-08 11:45

    That damaged was caused by travelling at 52km/h??? Ja boet, pull the other one! Ban him and fine him R25 000.00 per Impala and stop supporting the company that hired him

  • Bongani - 2012-05-08 11:47

    I do not think it is fair to judge this truck driver because we all exceed speed limit. The only difference we have not killed any Impala yet. The guy made a mistake and he is feeling awful about it. There is no need to sound all clever in this forum, but come 1pm we will be speeding going out to buy lunch because we want to be back on time. Guess what we might just have our won accidents.

      Rob - 2012-05-08 12:49

      Who is "we all"? A lot of drivers are a lot more responsible than you and this idiot! It is not a matter of trying to be clever. You are clever when you obey the speed limit and that is easy to do. I am sure he is feeling awful. He took a chance and it did not work. No sympathy. His mistake was to take a chance.

  • Victor - 2012-05-08 11:48

    He is the freak who is out of control !!!!!

  • Manu - 2012-05-08 11:48

    I have heard that lions, leopards and cheetahs also hunt and kill these Impalas in large numbers. This is not acceptable. I want to know what is being done about this. Isn't it time for the death penalty?

  • Pierre - 2012-05-08 11:49

    Can never be explained as an accident, this is a reserve, at the very least you should know that there will be animals, and they have the right of way! Ban him form ALL SANPARKS!!

  • Patrick - 2012-05-08 11:51

    I visit the KNP at least 3 times per year and have complained repeatedly about maintenance/supplier and other " official" vehicles speed about in the Park.This was no accident but sheer bloody stupidity. As for the fine of R2500, what a joke. An impala at auction costs approx R700 to R800. According to a different report he actually killed 12 Impala. He should have been fined a minimum of R10000 and banned from all reserves for life. What an absolute moron.

  • Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2012-05-08 11:53

    His tyres must have been totally bald to start with for him to skid for that long.

      PieterJ100 - 2012-05-08 11:58

      Correct. If you do a quick calculation as follows: He was driving on asphalt for drag coefficient at about a 5 degree angele with a skidmark of between 50 and 60 meters, lets use 55 meters. Do the calc and you get to a accurate estimate that he was going 110km/h when he hit the animals, not 52km/h like he states!! He says it was an accident, an accident is something that means no-one is to blame. He is to blame so it wasnt an accident.

  • PieterJ100 - 2012-05-08 11:54

    If you do a quick calculation as follows: He was driving on asphalt for drag coefficient at about a 5 degree angele with a skidmark of between 50 and 60 meters, lets use 55 meters. Do the calc and you get to a accurate estimate that he was going 110km/h when he hit the animals, not 52km/h like he states!! He says it was an accident, an accident is something that means no-one is to blame. He is to blame so it wasnt an accident.

      Manu - 2012-05-08 12:02

      How can you say that it wasn't an accident? Are you suggesting that it was intentional?

      PieterJ100 - 2012-05-08 12:09

      @Manu: If you say accident youre impying that it was no ones fault. Rather call it a collission because the driver was responsible. He had to know by driving too fast there could be consequences.

      Phae - 2012-05-08 12:16

      Manu what exactly are you trying to defend here? What do you think we need to learn from your perseption? We are outraged, whether you can understand that or not, and we will continue to demand respect for animals in their protected environments. Btw I left an answer to your last comment..

      Manu - 2012-05-08 12:24

      Pieter, if I drive at 110 km/h and nothing happens, no problem except that I have broken the law. But if someone or something walks in front of me then that is an accident. Driving at 110 km/h doesn't mean that a person's intention is to kill something. Driving at that speed only increases the chance of an accident and of course the chance that there will be a fatality. For example do you think that an Impala will survive a head on collision at 49 km/h?

      Rob - 2012-05-08 12:52

      Manu, the problem here was not only the excessive speed, and that it was not just "an impala"! It was at least seven!

  • karendk - 2012-05-08 12:07

    KNP calls a R2500 fine a tough punishment?? Really? NO Sympathy - you cannot speed in the KNP exactly because animals are unpredictable, this is their territory, and they should not be watching out for cars speeding! Tougher penalties needed! Protect our animals & heritage!

  • Patrick - 2012-05-08 12:07

    @ En. Your sarcastic post on Liz's comment about being "totally sahettered" and referring to her as an "emo" suggests you have all the sensitivity of a boiled egg. Drawing comparisons between losing a loved one and dead Impala makes zero sense. I am a 54 year old male and yes, I'm also shattered and emotional about this accident so feel free to mock me as well. I, (and thousands of others), am fanatical about wildlife and conservation. Rhino poaching or unneccessary killing of Impala upsets me immensely.

  • Jacobus - 2012-05-08 12:09

    I worked 16 years in the area, ban him, let him go drive else where, it's KNP you look while you drive and concentrate, this is the only free space left for game and on private reserves..

  • Jim - 2012-05-08 12:09

    Are we all stupid..??? Do you know how hard you need to hit those animals to kill them..?? These were hit HARD.. come on guys...when will we come right as people in this country..stop F#$king around..act responsibly, be accountable for your actions..!!!

  • Helen - 2012-05-08 12:12

    How do you hit 7 impala running across the road - chances you might hit one or two? More likely they were standing in a group when he hit them!!!

  • Stephen - 2012-05-08 12:14

    To all those who have never been late and driven over the legal spped limit, carry on Judging, to the rest.... STOP. I cannot Judge because firstly, I do not know the full story and secondly I too have speed (In KNP when late for a gate) so I will let this be lession to the driver as it was to me SLOW DOWN when in doubt, i.e. Bad weather, smog, smoke etc. All those are guilty may like, the rest, the perfect can dislike.

  • Lauden Kirk - 2012-05-08 12:16

    How many animals do you eat? It's was a mistake. Forgive him.

  • stefan.fourie.10 - 2012-05-08 12:28

    one question: if he was doing deliveries, why was he travelling back (i.e. leaving the park) with a 'heavily loaded' truck. does not make sense.

      Lizette - 2012-05-08 13:23

      @Stefan For something like R40 you can drive through the KNP as if it is a national road, instead of taking the highway or whatever.

  • sue.brown.39 - 2012-05-08 12:30

    It's about time KNP officials did something positive about speeding delivery vehicles. You see it all the time especially on the Lower Sabie Crocodile Gate road. These vehicles should be fitted with monitors of some sort

  • dawn.e.mays - 2012-05-08 12:38

    Knocking one by accident is probable but seven. He can carry on saying it was a freak accident but that is the biggest B......t story I have ever heard. he should be heavily fined or worse.

  • faerrab - 2012-05-08 12:39

    On the bright side - Have a draw for 7 lucky readers to an Impala braai evening, each winner will also receive a free Impala skin body warmer

  • jackitribe - 2012-05-08 12:49

    Shame poor man.... NOT!!!! He was going so fast that he could not stop! The speed limits are there to make sure you are able to stop, in case a herd of impala suddenly ran in front of the car. The impact alone scattered them all over the road. Uncaring, unfeeling disgusting man who caused this.... but he says he is innocent...HUH????

  • ujozi.sales - 2012-05-08 12:50

    Judging from the skid marks, it is fair to assume he's talking crap, ban him from the park and let him pay for the impala.

  • kasamkelo - 2012-05-08 12:51

    Make biltong