Durban cyclists were chatting, laughing before deadly crash, court hears

2018-01-16 15:55
The car which had smashed into the cyclists. (Photos supplied by Garrith Jamieson, Rescuecare)

The car which had smashed into the cyclists. (Photos supplied by Garrith Jamieson, Rescuecare)

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Durban – Just moments before cyclists Richard da Silva and Jared Dwyer were struck from behind by a car, allegedly driven by a speeding, drunk motorist, they were heard chatting and laughing.

This was the evidence on Tuesday of fellow cyclist Alan Clark who said he was riding just ahead of them on the M4 leading out of Durban, in the early morning of February 7, 2016.

He was testifying before Durban Regional Court Magistrate Anand Maharaj in the culpable homicide and drunk driving trial of Phoenix plumber Omesh Ramnarain.

READ: I was not drunk - motorist charged with killing two cyclists

Ramnarain, 33, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, denying that he was drunk or negligent. He claims to have had only four ciders at a club before driving home that morning.

He said he became aware of the accident when he heard a loud bang, his windscreen shattered and then, shortly thereafter, heard another bang.

He also claims that the cyclists must have been in the left-hand lane, not in the emergency lane.

'One was like a rag doll'

It was an emotional day for the relatives of the two men who sat through Clark's testimony.

Clark said he was part of a group who had gone on an early morning ride. He thought he was last but then heard voices – laughter – and turned around and saw Da Silva, 46, and Dwyer, 36, about 30m behind him cycling in the emergency lane.

"I heard a crash and my immediate thought was that a vehicle had hit into the barrier. As I turned around again, I saw two people airborne, flying past me. One was like a rag doll.

"Then a black Golf GTI came past... I thought he would ride over them. He came to standstill."

ALSO READ: 'My life cannot carry on' - partner of killed Durban cyclist

He said he knew his fellow cyclists must be dead because neither moved.

Other cyclists who were riding ahead then turned around and were coming back so he moved down the road to warn other cars of the accident scene ahead.

He said that he noticed in the mangled wreckage of one of the bikes that a red warning light was still flashing.

Car travelling at 'above average speed'

Earlier, Magistrate Maharaj heard evidence from a metro police official that cyclists are not allowed on that stretch of road because it is a "freeway".

Asked by defence lawyer Advocate Murray Pitman if he was aware of that, Clark said he had only learnt of this after the accident.

Dr Mtheleli Ndlangisa, a doctor at Addington Hospital who examined Ramnarain a few hours after the accident, said he had smelt alcohol on his breath and, after performing certain tests, had deemed him to be "moderately drunk".

Under cross-examination, he conceded that Ramnarain had passed certain tests, his pupils and speech were normal, he could walk normally and his reflexes were fine.

In his evidence, Warrant Officer Bongani Gasa of the SAPS accident combating unit said the "point of impact" was in the emergency lane.

He said he had come to this conclusion because of blood spatter, car and bike parts and coolant on the scene.

He estimated that the car had been travelling at "above average speed" because of the amount of damage on impact.

"I spoke to the accused. He was looking very shocked and he was under the influence of alcohol so there was nothing sensible I could get from him. He was unsteady, his speech was slurred and he smelt of alcohol."

The trial continues on Wednesday.

Read more on:    durban  |  accidents

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