School car crash driver epileptic - family

2012-01-20 12:56

Cape Town - The driver of a car which crashed into a primary school in Elsies River outside Cape Town, killing himself and injuring three others, was apparently epileptic.

The driver was declared dead on the scene at JS Klopper Primary School. The three other passengers, including two children who were seated at the back, sustained serious injuries.

One of the children, who is a year old, was airlifted to Red Cross Children’s Hospital in a critical condition, while a 2-year-old was taken to hospital by ambulance. The other adult occupant in the car also sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital.

The driver's family told reporters at the scene that the driver has a history of epilepsy and was prone to having fits. They believe he may have blacked out at the time of the crash.

According to eNews, investigators at the crash site said that there were no visible tyre tracks, indicating that the car may possibly have been airborne before impact.

A JS Klopper Primary School spokesperson earlier told News24 that “all the schoolchildren were safe”.

The schoolchildren were all inside their classrooms. The casualty count may have been much higher, had the accident occurred just 5 minutes later, when the children would have been on break.

- Were you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts

  • karen.glautier - 2012-01-20 13:10

    So sad, RIP. Pray the survivors have a speedy recovery

      procold2 - 2012-01-20 15:24

      sad,where are all the people that commentted on this earlier saying arrest the driver, also as long as you are on medication you may drive.

      proafrikaans - 2012-01-21 06:10

      This was criminal negligence on behalf of the driver and his relatives. Why was he allowed to drive in the first place if his family knew of his condition?

  • Hester - 2012-01-20 13:12

    Why was he driving if he was epileptic. RIP

      dumisiledee - 2012-01-20 13:27

      @Claudette but its a question that needs answers, we are very sympathetic about the kids that were injured and the deceased but why was he driving if he was epileptic?

      malcolm.molver - 2012-01-20 13:38

      Epileptics are allowed to drive provided they are on medication.

      redd1 - 2012-01-20 13:50

      @claudette Bulldust South African law clearly states if someone is having fits you are not allowed to drive period...i dont care who it was if your child was in that school what would you say!!!

      sabrael - 2012-01-20 13:53

      "In South Africa there is no law regarding the driving of a vehicle by a person who has Epilepsy..."

      qiniso.mngomezulu - 2012-01-20 14:16

      so u r saying if u r hiv + don't have sex Hester?????? if we are limited by our illness what type of country will this be

      reneen.dutoit - 2012-01-20 14:20

      Johnty Rhodes, drives and played cricket for out country and no one complained about it!! He is an epileptic!

      Thelma - 2012-01-20 14:24

      If that the case then a diabetic patients should not be allowed to drive a car either!!! This was a freak accident. Condolences to the drivers family and to all the families involved.

      laurenlee143 - 2012-01-20 14:29

      My husband recently had a seizure and the doctor advised us that epileptics are only allowed to drive 2 years after their last seizure and if on medication thereafter. Fact is, no one enforces this so-called "law"

      dee.vermaak - 2012-01-20 14:31

      "A two year seizure free period should elapse before driving a public or heavy vehicle" Straight off Sabraels website... Also RE the HIV Comment: Perhaps if people had abstained when they had a TRANSFERABLE SEXUAL DISEASE HIV wouldn't be as big a problem today. However, you can still have sex with a condom...epilepsy is slightly different as (as far as I know) it's fairly unpredictable... "The driver's family told reporters at the scene that the driver has a history of epilepsy and was prone to having fits" Indicates they could possibly have been on a regular basis..

      Nosiphom - 2012-01-20 14:42

      ....and should nat have been allowed to drive, to finish off Dee's sentence; because "A person should not drive for six months after the first seizure"

      dee.vermaak - 2012-01-20 14:56

      Well I suppose it would depend on how the condition was managed, if the medication is effective and you don't have fits, then yes, you should be allowed to drive...

      Zion - 2012-01-20 15:14

      Hester, your question is extremely relevant.Yesterday I went to have my drivers licence renewed. I had to sign a form declaring that I had no ailment or sickness which can jeopardise my driving ability. Epilepsy is definitely a no-no. Had this driver lived he would have been charged and locked up for a long time. and never would he qualify for a licence. Condolences to his family.

      Zion - 2012-01-20 15:19

      Claudette, don't you think you are being a bit harsh on Hester. This guy must have known about his epileptic condition yet still chose to drive and consequently kill himself and injure other persons. He never belonged on the road in the first place.

      drishworth - 2012-01-20 15:24

      @Hester, I think the question is a valid one in light of the fact that his family stated that "he was prone to having fits". If the condition is controlled through medication then the sufferer should be entitled live as normal life as possible. It would seem though that this driver's condition was not under control - prone to having fits? It is a very sad incident and so tragic that there was loss of life and suffering to the injured. May they make a speedy recovery. @qiniso, if you HIV+ and not playing it safe then yes, you shouldn't be having sex - just like if you sight impaired and are not wearing your glasses then you shouldn't drive......

      Zion - 2012-01-20 16:08

      Sabreal. I suggest you scroll to the bottom of this forum and read the legislation as per the document copied there and you will see that it is against the law to drive when suffering from epilepsy fainting or other debilitating diseases. When is epilepsy controlled? When the sufferer thinks it is necessary to take medication. Or forgets to take medication. bit ambiguous hey.

  • rodfor1435 - 2012-01-20 13:13

    People with epilepsy are not supposed to drive? It could have been much worse........Thank God the school kids were still in class.......... Having a 1 and 2 year old as passengers not strapped in should also be frowned upon....I wish them a speedy recovery without long term complications...........

      Jeffrey - 2012-01-20 14:04

      @Bert, What's the point of locking him up; he's dead.

      qiniso.mngomezulu - 2012-01-20 14:21

      Epilepsy does not limit you to driving they are hundreds of idiot even government officials who drink en drive n just get a slap on the wrist . give the poor guy a break accidents happens even sober people have smashed walls killing people because of failed breaks, talking on the phone so stop making a big deal against our illness

      Bert - 2012-01-20 17:39

      @Jeffrey, talking about all drivers who drive wioth kids unstrapped in cars you muppet.

  • alanaR.rodriguez - 2012-01-20 13:16

    ....not a doctor... but most epilectic people know when they are about to have a fit.... also, if the driver was prone to having fits, should he have been driving?

      malcolm.molver - 2012-01-20 13:45

      No they don't know. It just comes on suddenly and when they come around they can't remember what happened just before the onset of the seizure

      Megan - 2012-01-20 13:58

      Malcom, epilepsy has four stages, the very first one being the aura stage. This is the brains warning that a seizure is about to happen. I have treated MANY epileptic patients in the pre-hospital emergency setting and not a single one of them could say that they didn't know it was about to happen.

      Lee - 2012-01-20 14:03

      We understand that they can drive Melcom86 but the story says that the driver's family said he had a history of epilepsy which makes one think that he should not be driving for the safety of his own life and certainly not drive with passengers. Epilepsy can just springs on you and I can say that as I have been witness to 3 people on separate occassions who have suddenly had a fit without any warning.

      Thelma - 2012-01-20 14:29

      @ Megan - My mum suffers from epilepsy and takes meds everyday of her life and trust me she does not have any warning signs prior to the seizure and does not remember anything after the attach. She can go for months on end not having an attach and then it will strike.

      uwe.klopfer - 2012-01-20 14:38

      @Lee : 99.99% of people with epilepsy have a history of epilepsy. There are also different types and the minority dont even have seizures.

      Megan - 2012-01-20 15:55

      @Thelma, then your mom is the exception to the rule. There is plenty of medical research out there proving the stages of seizure activity. Of course, that argument could very easily be applied to this poor person and therefore those who DO NOT experience what is known to be the "warning stage" should not be allowed to drive or operate heavy machinary. Not because we are spiteful, horrible people but for their own safety. "Aura According to University of Maryland Medical Center, individuals will experience an aura as a strange sensation that can affect any of the five senses. It can be the sensation of tingling, smelling an odor that is not present, or changes in emotion or behavior. According to, although some auras are unpleasant, they also give the individual time to prepare for the seizure and remove themselves from an area where they may be injured. Auras can happen several minutes to several hours earlier than the seizure occurs. Changes that happen hours before a seizure include depression, irritability, sleep disruption, headache and nausea." Read more:

      Thelma - 2012-01-20 16:05

      @ Megan - Curious to know are you a qualified doctor or just an assistant nurse?

      Megan - 2012-01-20 16:41

      "JUST an assistant nurse?" oh the respect for the medical profession! No Thelma I am a qualified paramedic.

  • Sibusiso - 2012-01-20 13:17


      Megan - 2012-01-20 13:28

      Claudette, you lambast someone for not being sympathetic enough and then have the audacity to point out a small mistake for someone who IS showing symphathy... no winning with you, is there?

      reneen.dutoit - 2012-01-20 14:23

      Claudette, if you want to be like that and correct his grammar, maybe you should take a look at your grammar first!!!

      Tulips - 2012-01-20 17:30

      @reinee du toit, there's no need to be personal. Why don't you give her gramma lessons then.

      chantelebrown - 2012-01-20 17:37

      @reinee don't you think you are overreacting a bit, get some grip

  • tracy.h.ferreira - 2012-01-20 13:23

    In Europe, if you have had a fit, you are disqualified from driving for a year. Also, anyone who would be driving heavy vehicles such as buses, would have to be medically certified as seizure free for 10 years before they could get a licence.

  • E=MC2 - 2012-01-20 13:23

    wasnt this the same story that reported a police car chasing the one that crashed?? now its epilepsy? with no mention of a chase... NICE WORK NEWS24

      E=MC2 - 2012-01-20 13:27

      my apologies... seems it was News24 repeating Enews' rubbish! "eNews quoted a witness as saying that the car was seen speeding through the streets of the suburb - a police car was apparently in pursuit." Sensationalism at its best

      E=MC2 - 2012-01-20 13:35

      lol! hey, its a Friday afternoon :-)

  • Xoli - 2012-01-20 13:28

    I am no expert in this matter,but why do you put an epileptic guy on the road, it was bound to happen at some time, its just sad that the kids that was in the car might never live a normal life again...this was an accident waiting to happen...sorry but thats how I feel

      Thelma - 2012-01-20 14:33

      Why do they put Epileptic cricket players on the National cricket team? They are still human and can still contribute towards society!!!!

  • Michelle - 2012-01-20 13:28

    Jeez, how is this reporting??? First police car chase and slowly slowly the real story will come out.

      Peter - 2012-01-20 13:48, dont you know by now that this site is like a gossip magazine? FIRST pump the audience with sensationalism, and then SLOWLY but surely...give out the facts of what really happened over a space of about 10 articles. Their reporting is kind of like the practice of telling 20 people a full story, and then let them recite it back...News24 reports on what the last person the looks of it. ie: the filth at the bottom of the barrel, with no substance

  • Jaclynne Van Zyl Brewis - 2012-01-20 13:29

    Why was he driving?? My mom has epilepsy and may not get a licence. He was a danger to lots of people. I wonder if he had a licence if he had one he probably got it illegaly.

      malcolm.molver - 2012-01-20 13:41

      It seems your mom's epilepsy isn't under control? If she's on medication and is seizure free for two years then she may get a licence

      Jaclynne Van Zyl Brewis - 2012-01-20 13:48

      Ok I didn't know that. But if you read the articel it doesn't sound like that man had his epilepsy under control quote from the articel "The driver's family told reporters at the scene that the driver has a history of epilepsy and was prone to having fits. They believe he may have blacked out at the time of the crash."

      malcolm.molver - 2012-01-20 14:01

      Yes it seems clear it wasn't under control. He shouldn't have been allowed to drive. Generally you have to be seizure free for two years

      Megan - 2012-01-20 14:41

      There is no guarantee that a person suffering from epilepsy is EVER going to be seizure free if they are on medication. Even if you have not had a siezure in 2 years that doesn't mean that you are never again going to have one, medication or no medication. There are plenty of people who have seizures every now and again while on medication where their epilepsy is medically seen as being "under control". Not all epileptics are fortunate enough to be a situation where medication takes the seizures away, they just decrease the amount of seizure activity.

      barry.mcbride - 2012-01-20 19:41

      @Megan: I agree with you to some extent, except that once Epilepsy is completely controlled for two years (or less in some cases depending on the cause, type, frequency & severity of previous seizures’) and the patient hasn’t missed his/her prescribed medication (i.e. type & amount) or done anything 'silly' that may aggravate such, it is very unlikely that he/she will suddenly experience a seizure. It is definitely then safe enough for those to be driving. However, being an aeroplane pilot or operator of certain machinery, a surgeon, or an astronaut, etc. is a completely different ballgame.

  • Siann - 2012-01-20 13:39

    Why is everyone so interested in correcting people or getting angry with each other when a family has lost someone today. 3 people are still in a serious condition and all some of you are worried about is standing up to the next person!! Very Sad. RIP Mr, and i wish the other 3 a speedy recovery!!!

  • Ylla - 2012-01-20 13:44

    RIP and a speedy recovery to the children. I too was epileptic until I had brain surgery in 2002, and even then I had to be seizure free for 2 years with a medical certificate to back the claim up before I was allowed to apply for a driving licence. Epileptics who do not have full control of their seizures should refrain from driving in order to protect both themselves and other road users or pedestrians. All this heartache for these families could have been avoided. :(

  • Terrence - 2012-01-20 13:50

    I don't care whether epileptics are allowed to drive or not. If I know that I could blackout and kill myself or even worse kill someone else , I am not going to drive. As for being sympathetic ... I am sad those kids and the passenger got hurt. Being sympathetic towards the driver is the same as being sympathetic towards drunk drivers.

      edgar.thomas.31 - 2012-09-10 21:00

      try living with epilepsy before you run your mouth.

  • Bert - 2012-01-20 13:51

    epileptic and driving? The two don't go together somehow. Hope the Police look deeper into this eg medical records. If he is, as reported, epileptic, then the onus lies on the driver and his family for allowing him behind the wheel of a car in the first place. My sympathies to the injured passengers.

  • Justine - 2012-01-20 13:55

    This is a very sad happening and I do wish people would stop judging. A person lost his life and there are some innocent children that got hurt. We do not know the circumstances around why this person was driving. We probably never will, but I don't think this person would have put his/her children at risk if they knew they were prone to fits. Let's just pray that these kids will be okay. They lost a parent.

  • hfourie - 2012-01-20 13:56

    Stop blaming the epilepsy! None of you were there, there might be another reason, he might have lost control of the car in some other way, just stop with your narrowminded comments about epileptics! There are different types of epilepsy, different types of seizures, different conditions in terms of driving or not driving pertain to each epileptic's unique circumstances. So narrowminded. Maybe you should be asking where he was on his way to, and why he had no one else to count on to get from A to B but to get behind the steering wheel himself. Think beyond the obvious, people.

  • Randomhero6661 - 2012-01-20 13:59

    where was the cops chasing the car? now the story change again news24 JUICELESS!

  • Shirley - 2012-01-20 14:05

    Im confused-it was said he was being chased by police so this still does not clarify why,also epeleptics shouldnt be driving!

  • Marlene Janse V Rensburg - 2012-01-20 14:06

    Get over yourself's please... Hope the ppl will recover quick and that they will be fine

  • selma.bothmaolivier - 2012-01-20 14:16

    And who was in the car with him that can confirm that he did actually have a fit or could there have been another cause for the accident? People love to speculate about things they know nothing about! Even if he did have a history of epilepsy, who says that is what happened?

  • dee.vermaak - 2012-01-20 14:31

    And not something you can stop...

  • Nosiphom - 2012-01-20 14:35

    Begs the question - if you have epileptic fits now and again, should you be driving a car?

      Zion - 2012-01-21 07:50

      The legislation according to the application for a drivers/learners licence as printed below is not very clear on that aspect and does not define controlled epilepsy and uncontrolled epilepsy. Hopefully this will be clarified next week by the relevant authorities.

  • dee.vermaak - 2012-01-20 14:58

    Whoops sorry, just saw how dysfunctional my comment looks!! Copy + Paste nightmares...

  • Marina - 2012-01-20 15:21

    Claudette....I wonder how you would have felt if it was your child or your husband.....Youre opinions are really scary I must say

  • Zion - 2012-01-20 15:53

    Here is the declaration which has to be accepted and signed when renewing a drivers licence: I am not prohibited from obtaining a learners or drivers licence by reason of any disqualification suspension or cancellation of a licence authorising the driving of a motor vehicle, as contemplated in the National road traffic act 1996. I do not suffer from one of the following diseases or disabilities: Uncontrolled epilepsy Sudden attacks of disabling giddiness or fainting due to hypertension or any other disease. Any form of mental illness to such a degree that it is necessary that I be detained supervised and treated as a patient in terms of the mental health act.(act 18 of 1973) Any condition causing muscular inco-ordination Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus Defective vision Any other disease or disability which is likely to render me incapable of effectively driving and controlling a motor vehicle of the class applied for without endangering public safety. I am not addicted to the use of any drug having a narcotic effect or the excessive use of intoxicating liquor. And therefore I am medically fit for the purpose of driving a vehicle All the particulars furnished by me in this form are true and correct. I realize that a false declaration is punishable with a fine or one year imprisonment or both. FORM DL1

      Marlene - 2012-01-21 02:07

      Zion, that sounds fair to me. I personally think the epileptic scenario is a bit of family opinion. What makes me doubt it, is the huge speed at which he must have been travelling. I feel that this car was out of control and the driver was trying to correct it round that slight bend. I feel he never knew the car. Epilepsy has various degrees. If it had been a mild attack, he could have controlled the car. If it was as is called grande mal, he would have crashed long before he did. I guess thumbs are going to overwork here ..... you are welcome ! I pray only for the safe healing of the two little babies.

  • Dexter - 2012-01-20 15:53

    The 1st 3 most read stories are all on the same incident, are you guys running out of material ????

  • Marina - 2012-01-20 16:20

    Epilepsy South Africa expresses our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured in this accident. We wish a speedy recovery for the injured persons and trust that the learners and teachers at the school will receive the necessary counseling to overcome this traumatic experience. Our organisation will be issuing a press release during the next week providing much-needed information about driving by people with epilepsy.

  • jandreleroux - 2012-01-20 19:42

    IE Being epileptic makes it ok? Poor kids!

  • Calvyn - 2012-01-20 22:58

    Wait for the bloodtest before everyone goes crazy about epilepsy - the guy was an idiot who almost killed his kids and other people's as well.

      trix.duvenage - 2012-01-21 09:45

      Yip... wait for the tests.... maybe he was stoned ....or maybe he was exited after a brawl with his wife.... maybe he was pissed off because of political indifferences..... and here we speculate about epileptic attacks and such

  • Bokfan - 2012-01-20 23:00

    what happened to the saps car chase from earlier reports? Lets hope the kids and the other survivor come thru this in good shape.

      Zion - 2012-01-21 07:39

      There is a headline on today's News 24 stating that the cops deny chasing the car.

  • Cecile - 2012-07-09 10:17

    Probably not taking his meds ... otherwise his condition would have been completely controlled. Epileptics, Bi-polar people, Schizophrenics don't seem to realise it's actually selfish NOT to take their meds just because they don't think they need them. They just 'up' the responsibility for their nearest and dearest ... all because of 'pill stigma' which is so rife.

  • alex.richards.94064 - 2012-07-09 10:44

    How did he get a PDP? Epileptics may drive, but not buses or code 14 trucks, and eben so under very compliant medical control.

      Cecile - 2012-07-09 10:55

      Hey Alex, do you see that the date on this article was 20 January???? What's up with this - how on earth was this story posted today? I see you and I are the only people posting ... are we in a time warp or something? Or does news24 have a virus???

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