The father of a Limpopo man who died shortly after a trampoline accident in Greenstone Hill, Johannesburg, describes his son as the best person that ever lived.
The death of Abraham “Awa” du Toit (34) has sent shockwaves through the Louis Trichardt community. Awa’s family are still in shock and trying to come to terms with the loss, Gerrit du Toit, Awa’s father, a pharmacist in Louis Trichardt, tells YOU.
Awa, who worked with the recycling of scrap iron, was seriously injured on 30 December during a family outing to the Rush Greenstone Indoor Trampoline Park when a trick on one of the trampolines went horribly wrong.
Gerrit says there’s still uncertainty about how exactly the accident happened. The family only know that Awa had done a summersault just before he was injured.
“It was a kind of backward summersault – he’d jumped forward before diving backward,” Gerrit explains.
Awa landed on his neck, breaking his sixth and seven vertebrae. The shift in the vertebrae apparently caused a complete dislocation, severing the spinal cord.
“I wish we could know exactly how it happened. That’s what gets to us. The venue is extremely safe – there’s soft landing mats everywhere. It just doesn’t make sense how it happened. I even called the park to ask for CCTV material, but to no avail.”
Awa was taken to the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg where he was admitted to the spinal unit.
“Shortly after the accident he told us it had felt as if the back of his head had hit something hard. But we still don’t know how that happened.”
Awa passed away seven days later, on 6 January. He would’ve celebrated his 35th birthday on 15 January. His wife, Denise, whom he married in October 2010, was with him when he died.
The couple don’t have children. Gerrit says he and wife, Yolandi, and their daughter, Elmula Venter, were at Awa’s bedside with Denise.
In answer to a question if the family had been prepared for Awa’s death, Gerrit says, “The hospital personnel were extremely capable and professional. We were well prepared. They explained the prognosis and we had to make peace with it.”
Though the family is grief-stricken and traumatised, they’re supporting each other. On Monday, the family was still all together, but Denise has since gone to visit her parents.
“She’s extremely emotional but of course that’s understandable. Just like the rest of us, she spent the whole week by his hospital bed. We’re trying to be there for each other, that’s all we can do now.”
“Day by day . . . while the pain consumes me bit by bit. Miss you so much, my better half,” Denise posted on Facebook.
Gerrit says he’s heart-broken over his son’s death but that his legacy will live on.
“Of course I’m speaking as a parent but I’m telling you the holy truth,” he says in response to a question about the lives his son touched. “He was the one person in hospital who apologised to the nurses for ostensibly bothering them. He was the best person I ever knew. And we’re going to miss him incredibly.”