A fun family outing to a zoo turned to tragedy for a couple from Gordon’s Bay, near Cape Town.
Gerhard van Niekerk (29) says he and his fiancée, Madelein van Zyl (27),
have been devastated by the death of their baby boy, Kaiden Luke, in a car
crash in Gauteng. The infant was exactly eight weeks old on the day he died.
Gerhard says the family were in Johannesburg for the holidays when an accident on the N12/N3 between the Gillooly’s interchange and Germiston claimed their baby’s life.
“Lukie was declared dead at 11 that night. The impact and whiplash, if I can put it like that, was too much for his small body,” Gerhard says.
eldest son, Gregory Justin James (4), was also in the car when the crash
happened at around 6.30pm on 28 December.
“We’d been to Pretoria for the day – I’d taken my family to the zoo. On the way back to Germiston, where my sister lives, we were driving in cruise control in the far-right lane,” Gerhard says.
The motorist who caused the crash nearly ran another car off the road, Gerhard says, before swerving into their lane and hitting the family’s car on the back left side.
“I lost control of the car and drove into a hill next to the road.”
The family were
taken to the nearby Netcare Union Hospital in Alberton.
Gerhard and Gregory were uninjured but Madelein suffered serious injuries to her left ankle and right elbow, and the C2 and C3 vertebrae in her neck were broken.
Gerhard says due to the nature of the fracture, she won’t need neck surgery but she has to wear a neck brace and keep as still as possible until she’s fully healed.
Her ankle needs surgery but that can only happen when the swelling has gone down.
transferred to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital the day after the crash.
Gregory has since returned to Gordon’s Bay where he’s living with his grandparents until his mother is sufficiently recovered to be transferred to Cape Town’s Tygerberg Hospital.
“We don’t have medical aid and we’ve already received the first hospital bill,” he says.
The family’s only vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, was written off in the crash.
Gerhard, a self-employed electrician, says his entire outlook on life has changed since the crash.
“Money is an
earthly thing, time is irreplaceable. The Lord blessed us with our baby boy,
even though it was only for a short while. I bonded with that little boy and
came to love him so deeply in the short time he was given to us,” he says.
“People need to realise that time with your loved ones is the most important thing in life.
“Be careful on the roads and don’t drive recklessly,” he adds.
He describes the loss of his baby son as “worse than hell”, but he knows he has a responsibility to his surviving family members and he’s grateful that they were spared.
“We’ll be using
every opportunity we get to heal and process our loss.”