Young couple shattered after accident: ‘We’ve lost everything’

2018-01-31 19:53
PHOTO: Supplied

PHOTO: Supplied

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Young couple shattered after accident: 'We've lost everything'

A couple from Ellisras in Limpopo, Chantell and Andrew Claassens, says they're still dealing with the aftermath of an accident about 18 months ago when a BMW car hit Andrew's quad bike.

Nobody has been prosecuted.

Andrew (29) is still bedridden after the accident on June 19, 2016 when a grey BMW ploughed into him.

The BMW's driver, who's thought to have been driving under the influence, hit Andrew's quad bike, dragging him for 60 metres.

It's been more than 18 months and Andrew still has a broken left arm, his left leg grew back crooked, both his little fingers were amputated and he's even unable to make fists to express his rage.

Though police haven't made any arrests, they apparently know who the suspect is.

The task of caring for him full-time now falls to Andrew's wife, Chantell (26). Neither Andrew nor Chantell can work at the moment. They have a two-year-old son, Marnigh.

They started a supporters' page, Tweede Kans vir Andrew [Second Chance for Andrew], on Facebook and are trying to find innovative solutions to their financial problems.

The couple also needs to find private medical care for Andrew in order to improve his quality of life.

Chantell says the lack of quality medical care in state hospitals has dealt them a further blow.

"It's hard. We're dependant on other people for our survival," she told YOU this week.

They're currently living with family in Benoni, east of Johannesburg. Since the accident they've been living out of suitcases because they've had to move so many times. Andrew lost his job as farm manager after he was injured. Because the farm they'd been living on was 90km from the nearest town, Ellisras, Chantell, an administration clerk, was a stay-at-home mom.

"We lost everything that day. My husband lost his job, the use of his limbs, his work bakkie . . . We lost our home," she says.

The weekend of the accident Andrew had stayed on the game farm near Ellisras (Lephalale) because he had to work. Chantell and their baby, then three months old, were visiting her parents in Johannesburg.

The sun was just starting to go down when he was riding the quad bike on the R572 to the farm, where the tar road becomes gravel.

"As Andrew was taking the turn-off to the farm, the BMW driver came speeding toward him in the oncoming lane and hit his quad," Chantell says.

Andrew was pinned under the car and was allegedly dragged for about 60 metres before the driver came to a standstill.

A worker from the neighbouring farm came across the scene of the accident and called for help.

While an ambulance was taking Andrew to hospital, the BMW driver allegedly had his car towed from the accident scene. Police officers took his details at the scene, but allegedly never tested his blood alcohol level.

Chantell recalls she had a strange feeling that evening when she couldn't reach her husband on his phone. She told her mom she was worried.

"I'd barely finished speaking when the hospital phoned. They phoned the number my husband had stored on his phone under 'My angel'. It was terrible. At that stage I was 400 km away from him."

That weekend Chantell was also to find out a close family member who'd been paying Andrew's portion of his medical aid had stopped doing so a month before because of a family feud. She says they were never informed of this.

The hospital to which Andrew was taken the night of the accident didn't have a bed available in the ICU, so after he'd been stabilised, Andrew was airlifted to a hospital in Polokwane.

Chantell says when she finally got to see her husband in the early morning hours of 20 June, he looked very bad. The right side of his face had no skin and he'd received more than 200 stitches to the head.

It was feared that his neck was broken, so Andrew was kept in a medically induced coma four two weeks. After he regained consciousness on 1 July, Chantell had to remind him daily who he is, where he was and what happened.

Miraculously his neck hadn't been broken, but he still suffers from intermittent memory loss to this day. He has screws in his left leg but the leg is turning crooked. He received little physical therapy and his broken left arm also grew back crooked.

Constable Mamabolo Monatse, police spokesperson in Limpopo, says police are still investigating a case of reckless and negligent driving. "Police allegedly received a call on 19 June 2016 at 8pm to an accident on the R572 near Motlhasedi," he said.

The BMW driver, whose name is known to YOU, was given a statement of warning at the accident scene but his telephone numbers were never taken down.

The investigation had been passed from the investigating officer to the section commander and will be referred to the national prosecuting authority on 2 February.

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