Racing car slams into photographer

2011-05-16 10:06

Johannesburg - A freelance photographer is in a coma in hospital after being hit by a racing car while photographing the HMC Hencom Autobody rally at the weekend, Beeld reported on Monday.

Deon van der Merwe, 40, was seriously injured during the sixth phase of the event, which runs over 180km between eMalahleni in Mpumalanga and Bronkhorstspruit in Gauteng.

"It is very unfortunate that it happened," Motorsport SA head Francois Pretorius told Beeld. "Unfortunately he and other photographers were standing at a dangerous place and they were warned several times not to stand there."

Van der Merwe suffered injuries to the head, face and heart, lungs and kidneys when former national racing champion Hergen Fekken's car hit him.

Van der Merwe's wife, Annalene, said: "Deon was standing with two other photographers on a bend, taking pictures, when one of the racing cars veered out of control... there just wasn't enough time to jump out of the way and the car ran over Deon."

He was airlifted to Pretoria East hospital where he was put on a heart-lung machine.

- Deon van der Merwe Photography website

  • saabnut - 2011-05-16 10:18

    I hope he makes a full recovery, and MSA- get your act together. i competed in the 2008 King of the Mountain Hillclimb, which was eventually called off due to a lack of adequate crowd supervision and co-operation. Did you guys not learn anything?

      cracknose - 2011-05-16 11:22

      The crowds are not made up of kids. They knew the risks when they decided to stand in the way of moving cars.

      SpeedFan - 2011-05-16 11:45

      @saabnut, come on, you can't seriously put the blame on MSA. Crowds getting to close to the racing/rally cars is a world wide problem! For the life of me I don't know why they get so close!!!

      Thangy - 2011-05-16 11:56

      Hope he got the shot

      Winston - 2011-05-16 12:10

      This is a rally. How can you have crowd control on a wide scope over hundreds of kilometres. I can understand where you coming from but sometimes theres a thing called commomn sense given the fact that you have a two ton vehicle bearing down on you on a dangerous corner and you were warned about the consequences. They did their job by warning them several times and they chose to ignore it. They cannot be held responsible as cracknose says, they not kids.

      Rammsteen - 2011-05-16 12:11

      @Saabnut, are you nutty?. I too take photos at motorsport events and I firmly believe I alone am responsible for my safety. This is about getting that elusive "perfect shot".

      Craig - 2011-05-16 13:53

      You half answered the big question. And from the story above, its seems to have also played a role in this accident. The answer = Co-operation. I fthe photographers had listened then they would not be in this current situation. When any photographer puts on a MSA bib and goes to take pics he/she is risking his/her life. This we know and have to take responsibility for. Unfortunately spectators dont always understand the danger and this can be the unhappy ending to a day which was supposed to enjoyable

  • sean.redmond3 - 2011-05-16 10:25

    The crowds do NOT listen.

      Xavier - 2011-05-16 11:54

      IF the crowds do NOT listen then they must feel

  • Paralegal - 2011-05-16 10:26

    I'm really sorry to hear of this tragedy BUT the photographers were warned to move. Why did they not listen!!

      degenerate - 2011-05-17 16:10

      He didn't expect the Fekken car to loose control

  • lenhard1984 - 2011-05-16 10:34

    he did not move because he had to get the money shot for his family to have a house over there heads.

      Xavier - 2011-05-16 12:01

      As a fellow photographer he could got the same shot with a better lens standing at a save distance. As he was warned not to stand there, and was hit by the rally car, now who is going to take the pics now to get money to put a roof over his family's heads....mmm, stupid logic.

  • Susannomore - 2011-05-16 10:44

    Is it really necessary to have the photo? I find that a bit insensitive

      Suckerz - 2011-05-16 11:01

      I agree... a file photo would more than suffice.

  • Mel - 2011-05-16 10:48

    MSA really need to enforce much stronger saftey regulations for spectators. We have been to several rallys and the crowd is always only a few meters away form the cars.

      Gail Joyce - 2011-05-16 17:53

      Mel, have you ever tried to move spectators let alone photographers at these type of events? It is hell. I have marshalled at Killarney Race Track and at 4x4 extreme challenges.... they just don't listen and photographers will ALWAYS say "I have been doing this for ... years - I know what I am doing". YEAH RIGHT!

  • Winston - 2011-05-16 10:55

    Unfortunately he was warned but hope he has a speedy recovery. Hope he learns from this.

      CR - 2011-05-16 13:45

      And become a lecturer and teach future journos about the dangers of standing too close to dangers LOL

  • Jedi Master - 2011-05-16 10:57

    That just once again shows the NEED for Good medical coverage at these events. Not just for the participants, but also for spectators alike. Well done to M.M.C (Motorsport Medical Consultants) for doing what they do best!!

  • PIET VENTER - 2011-05-16 11:17

    Should the Clerk of the Course not stop racing if ANYTHING is not safe during racing?

      Jedi Master - 2011-05-16 11:43

      Photographers have the right to choose. You cant control everyone on a rally event. It is more controllable on a race track such as Kyalami, where fencing etc is in place.

  • Norbert Stallkamp - 2011-05-16 11:32

    that photo is incredibly insensitive... the Dr/nurse that allowed the photo to happen should be brought before the Health Professions council and the photographer disciplined... as a Health professional myself i think it is appaling that this is published by news24!

      Jedi Master - 2011-05-16 11:42

      And the twin towers and killing in Afghan is ok to be screened daily? Maybe the family gave permission? (I am also a HPCSA member) Nothing wrong there!

      Norbert Stallkamp - 2011-05-16 11:49

      @Jedi Master... I think the force is weak with you! You cannot compare the twin towers incident and wars in Afghan to a single photo of a man who was tragically injured. If I (or my family) were published in this state on this website I would be upset...

      Etienne - 2011-05-16 11:50

      Maybe the photo is a lesson to ALL that they must listen to marshalls and might just save someone's life

      Xavier - 2011-05-16 12:05

      I have no problem regarding the photo, nothing wrong with that. Hopefully everybody who attends these rally's, photographers included, see this and think twice before they disobey warnings or stand in unsafe areas on the track.

      Jedi Master - 2011-05-16 12:16

      @ Norbet. Saying again. Maybe PERMISSION was given and then we have no right to say or do anything about it.

      CR - 2011-05-16 13:47

      His the face of the new Road Safety campaign, hence the photo.

      Jamie Ross - 2011-08-28 21:07

      Norbet the photo is needed to bring reality to those who take safety at tracks as a joke and when marshals ask you to move you give them abuse. You are there by their authority and it is not your right. If reports are true this man and others were asked to move. As an experienced photographer he should have known the points where it is stupid and and not just risky to place yourself. The marshals knew this and asked them to move. They did not.

  • Queteepie - 2011-05-16 11:41

    Surely there does not have to be a photo of him, could you not rather have put up a photo of the car. Call me sensative but I dont like it.

  • - 2011-05-16 12:47

    You must always stand on the INSIDE of the bend.

  • Craig - 2011-05-16 12:58

    Standing on the outside of a turn when you are taking pics of any motorsport is asking for trouble. Racing cars especially will 99% of the time end up going to the outside. When he signed for his MSA media card he took responsibility for what might happen. Unfortunately, when you looking through the lens you only worried about the photo, and seldom actually realise how close these cars get to you and in what danger you are. Motorsport is dangerous, and unfortunately he was to new to the game to realies what the real dangers are of doing it. Hope he gets better soon.

  • Cuppa-jo - 2011-05-16 13:14

    People will always do stupid things. What on earth made him stand on a bend in a RALLY?! I dont watch racing and even I know that the corner is the most dangerous place to be a pedestrian!

      CR - 2011-05-16 13:48

      He drank a Redbull and thought he could fly away before the cars got to the bend.

      Craig - 2011-05-16 14:01

      @ CR. What kind of person can make jokes like that when something like this happens. I guess your small mind cant comprehend what his family must be going through. Or even what the driver of that car must be going through knowing what has happened. There is a time and place for a good laugh. This is not one of those

  • charmaineandstu - 2011-05-16 15:07

    @CR- I know this guy. He's a good guy, that made a mistake and is paying for it dearly. This is serious to him and his family and friends. Go and find some other arb story to leave ur amateurish wannabe comedian comments! Grow up!

  • Onthou - 2011-05-16 15:25

    Wish you a speedy recovery.

  • Gail Joyce - 2011-05-16 17:48

    Some photographers, when asked to move to a safer place, turn around and swear at you. I do hope the guy recovers, but let this be a lesson to the rest. SAFETY FIRST!

      Jamie Ross - 2011-08-28 21:02

      It is the responsibility of course officials to remove any photographer and if necessary ban them if they refuse to move when requested. If necessary they will shut down racing until their request is complied with.

  • Hardy - 2011-05-16 18:54

    Lets start with the facts- 1. the man is an accredited motoring journalist, that means that he is given a greater leeway than the average spectator to make his own decisions about his own concerns. 2. being accredited he has to take out a compulsory minimum level of insurance, (probably like most people he opted for the minimum but at least it will go some way to meeting his expenses. 3. Rally's provide controlled facilities at recommended and well publicized spectator points, organisers can however never be expected to control 170km of route every 100m of the way. 4. This was a properly organized, approved event with full medical facilities. 5. The competitors involved used their basic first aid training to immediately establish an airway. 6. The safety system meant that organizers had knowledge of the incident within minutes. 7. The first ambulance was on scene in under 4 minutes 8. A med-evac helicopter was dispatched within minutes of the first paramedics arriving on scene and establishing that it would be necessary. You can't expect MSA to do more. Following investigations (which related mainly to the crowds failure to adhere to instructions) the King of the mountains event referred to by Saabnut has never been licensed to be run again. In summary, the photographer is a pro, conversant with the risks he was undertaking, everything possible was done afterwards to manage his injuries for the best possible outcome. Finally, I wish the injured photographer a speedy recovery

      Jedi Master - 2011-05-17 08:45

      Could not have said it better myself!! Thanks for this! Again, immediate medical care is paramount at these events. Well done to all involved. 4 minutes to first medical intervention. Now that is world class standards!!!

      Johann Grobler - 2011-06-15 12:04

      I agree with your views Hardy. However. What does accreditation entail? Is it a matter of money exchanging hands? What familiarization training is given to "new" rallying photographers like Deon? Are they required to wear high visibility apparel like those required by photographers in the UK? (they are ALL controlled by the SAME FIA regulations)In the UK, motorsport photographers are requird to SIGN IN for each event. They get BRIEFED and ISSUED with high visibility clothing. Does this happen in our country? Is it required? I'm not saying that the UK motorsport controlling body is adhering to FIA regulations and MSA are not. I don't know the content of the regulations in this regard. There is an obvious difference between the way things are done here and in the UK. What are the reasons for this? Who is responsible? I have a problem when any controlling body in any sport is policed by itself, as it appears to be the case with most in SA. Maybe the media should approach MSA and enquire about the concerns expressed here. Or even better, from the horses mouth, the FIA. Was the FIA in any way part of the investigation into this accident? What are their recommendations following this accident? If any, how and when will it be implemented? This information should be public knowledge, as it not only in public interest, but public SAFETY. It is very difficult to police every possible stretch of special stage. One has to rely, to some extent, on people's common sense and sense of self p

  • Jamie Ross - 2011-08-28 21:00

    As a freelance photographer, I understand the danger involved with being trackside. No matter what happens, I have taken calculated risks but have never been stupid in standing in certain places which are known accident zones. Saying that I have had a number of near misses. I hope this photographer recovers to continue his passion and learns to evaluate the vantage point and as suggested below by one person, change lenses and move to a safer point.

  • Deon van der Merwe - 2014-01-14 14:06

    Amazing how people read a news article and believe every word...

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