Witness describes 'split second' that killed Swedish volunteer in alleged drunk driving case in Cape Town

2019-08-20 17:50
Cape Town Magistrate's Court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Cape Town Magistrate's Court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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A "split second" was all it took for an alleged drunk motorist to drive into Swedish volunteer Aksel Otterbeck, who died while walking with new friends to the Table View beachfront in December 2016.

State witness Luuk Theunissen had been in South Africa from Holland for less than two hours, also to volunteer at children's charity SAVE, before his life changed.

He had checked in, had one drink at the bar of the SaltyCrax backpackers, and joined a group of people who had decided to walk to the beach.

He was chatting to a woman and a man, with another volunteer walking slightly in front of him, and Aksel and a woman called Meshi behind him.

He didn't know them well, as they had just all introduced themselves and they were chatting as they walked.

He insisted they were all walking on a grassy pavement in Arum Road when a vehicle was suddenly heading for them. 

He had jumped back slightly, and was not hurt.

"It happened in a split second," said Theunissen who was grilled over when he saw Darryl Futter's grey VW Polo for the first time.

Futter is accused of killing Otterbeck on the evening of December 14, 2016.

But that was not the case for everybody.

He saw Meshi lying on the driveway they had all been crossing at the time.

Blood was coming from her ears and mouth.

Blunt force trauma

Trained in First Aid, he immediately started assessing Meshi who was closest to him, and then one of the men in the group told him to "switch".

He said this means that a First Aider wants another person to provide a second opinion or assessment on somebody, and they switched, with him moving to Aksel who was lying on the ground.

He tilted his chin, checked his pulse and heart rate.

"It was very low," he said.

Dr Diana Jaravaza testified previously that the 19-year-old Swede had died of blunt force trauma.

Futter has pleaded not guilty to charges of culpable homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless and/or negligent driving and assault.

The Cape Town Regional Court has also heard that he allegedly tried to take a swing at a bouncer as he left Doodles restaurant on the beachfront before the crash.

Otterbeck's father Jesper held a laminated photograph of his son smiling and on a beach, as he sat in the front row of the court for the continuation of the trial on Tuesday.

'Little swerves'

Earlier, Maxim Gobers, who had flown in from Belgium to testify, said he had joined the group to go to the beach. He insisted that Futter had cut a corner and then did "little swerves", before hitting the group.

His memory is also of a car revving high.

But Futter's lawyer Keith Gess put it to Gobers that the group had actually caused the accident by walking in the road, and that it was dark, not still light as he had claimed.

He submitted that his client told him that the group had actually moved from one side of the other and then back again.

Gess also questioned the two relentlessly on what they had had to drink before they went out 

But Gobers replied that people were walking on the pavement because they had all been warned to do so as a safety precaution.

Gobers said he had been walking in the front of the group and was hit on his left side and had sustained severe bruising.

Futter sat silently in a pin-striped jacket in the dock, as Gess repeatedly asked the same questions about where they had all been standing at the time of the accident. 

He also put it to Gobers that Futter had flashed his lights, and hooted, but Gobers said he did not recall this.

Also in court was the South Africans Against Drunk Driving, which helps victims of such incidents exercise their rights, such as preparing victim impact statements. 

The trial was postponed to September 17 for the State to get quotations on bringing over more witnesses from overseas. 

Gess suggested that they pay for their own air tickets and be paid back, saying doing it this way cost the State one sixth of the price. 

Prosecutor Ebrahim Adams explained that these arrangements are outsourced.

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