Brave boy, 7, survives 3-hour tunnel ordeal after being sucked out of train

2016-05-13 07:20
A 7-year old boy survived after falling out of a train near Durban. He was critically injured and crawled out of a tunnel where off road bikers found him. (Supplied, Netcare 911)

A 7-year old boy survived after falling out of a train near Durban. He was critically injured and crawled out of a tunnel where off road bikers found him. (Supplied, Netcare 911)

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Durban – A KwaZulu-Natal father has described how his brave seven-year-old son spent three harrowing hours in a dark tunnel fighting for his life after being sucked out of a moving train.

Paul Mnikathi from Hammersdale said he was amazed when he heard that his son took off his school tie to staunch a bleeding head injury and began to crawl to safety, avoiding five oncoming trains in the process.

The 40-year-old security guard told News24 on Thursday that on Wednesday, he saw three of his four children off to school as usual.

Langelihle, 7, Amahla, 12 and Luyanda, 17, left home at around 06:00 to take a train to Durban to their school in Shallcross.

Mnikathi said, "I helped them get ready for the day and saw them off at the gate at home. They normally take a train and jump off in Shallcross. Yesterday started like any other day but Langelihle and his sister, Amahle, were sent home early from school, at around 09:30, because [the school] did not have water."

Mnikathi said Langelihle could not find his sister after leaving school and boarded the train with his friends.

"There was a lot of confusion with the transport. Some children took the bus home and others took the train. Amahle went into a bus with her friends and Langelihle got into the train thinking his sister would be there."

Sucked out of the train

Langelihle told his father that there was a group of grade six pupils from Shongweni on the train who forced open the train doors while it was moving.

"Langelihle was walking from coach to coach looking for his sister because he thought she may have also taken the train home. While he was searching for his sister, the Shongweni kids opened the door. The train went through a tunnel at the same time and Langelihle was sucked out of the train.

"He landed head first on the ground and the wound immediately began to bleed. He removed his tie and tied it around his head to stop the bleeding. It was very dark inside and he started to crawl out of the tunnel. He told me that five trains passed during this time."

Mnikathi said the pupils immediately told the train driver that Langelihle had fallen off the train and the driver informed the authorities.

"But this guy directed them to the wrong tunnel and they spent a long time looking for him."

(Supplied, Netcare 911)

Fortune, help

Luckily, Langelihle spotted someone walking across the railway line some distance away and called for help.

"That person ran away because he thought it was a ghost coming after him or that he was hearing things. The man ran to the security guards and told them that he heard something coming from the tunnel."

The guards remembered that authorities had earlier asked them if they had seen a boy who had fallen off a train, and they rushed to the tunnel.

They were met by a group of motorcyclists and called Netcare911 paramedics who rushed to the scene and stabilised Langelihle and took him to hospital.


Mnikathi said he was thankful his son was alive.

"I think it's a miracle he is alive because he could have fallen onto the railway [tracks]. He is a brave young boy."

Mnikathi said he was traumatised by the incident and had not been able to eat since he heard the news.

"Last year I buried their mother. Life has been tough as a single father and the thought of losing him scared me."

Speaking from his King Edward VIII Hospital bed, Langelihle told News24, "I knew exactly what to do. I was not scared."

He said he wanted to be a soldier when he grows up, and that he had remained strong during his ordeal. 

(Supplied, Netcare 911)

Read more on:    durban  |  good news

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