Kim McCusker’s father speaks after her death: Her heart might just have given out

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Kim McCusker couldn’t practice as advocate after the taxi incident and started her own beauty salon. (Photo: FACEBOOK)
Kim McCusker couldn’t practice as advocate after the taxi incident and started her own beauty salon. (Photo: FACEBOOK)

Johannesburg advocate Kim McCusker made headlines a decade ago when she was dragged nearly 800m under a minibus taxi in a road-rage incident. She survived but was in constant pain – and her family recently revealed she had passed away.

Kim’s father, Douglas McCusker, who is also a lawyer, is still reeling from shock when he answers the phone.

“She’d been in pain ever since that taxi-dragging incident,” he tells YOU. “Her pain never stopped.”

Douglas had been on holiday in Mpumalanga with his wife, Pat, when they received the tragic news and rushed home to Johannesburg.

The circumstances of her death remain unclear, he says. Her body was found in bed on the evening of Thursday 22 April, and her family suspect Kim (35) might have passed away in her sleep after she’d taken the day off work because of severe pain.

“Kim had been on pain medication for 10 years,” he says. “We believe the medication finally took its toll on her body. It could be that her heart gave out but we won’t really know until the autopsy has been done.”

Kim’s younger sister, Julia Frantzeskou, took to Facebook to break the news of her sister’s death.

“It is with great sadness that our family shares the news of Kim Mc Cusker’s passing on Thursday 22 April 2021. We are heartbroken and in disbelief as it is hard to imagine a world without our precious Kimmy who amongst so many other things, was a loving daughter to Doug and Pat, devoted partner to Anthony and incredible sister to Gareth, Ian and me.

“I know that she touched so many hearts and that the significance of this loss will be felt by all, including her family, friends, staff members and clients. We ask for space to grieve in this trying time and will be sure to share the details of the funeral once these have been arranged [sic].”

Kim and her then-fiancé, Lourens Grobler, were involved in an altercation with a taxi driver in Lonehill, Johannesburg, while on their way to gym in 2011.

She fell under the taxi and the driver drove off, dragging her for about 780m along the tar road. Kim was stripped of skin and muscle and needed about 40 operations in the months and years that followed.

In an interview with YOU in 2018, she told how she’d grown up with scars. As a one-year-old she’d had heart trouble and needed open-heart surgery – but the dragging incident would herald the life of constant chronic pain.

“Over the years she really suffered,” Douglas says. “I know she’d hurt her back at the gym [recently]. But it was always like this – if Kim was in a lot of pain, she would just take a day off to recover.”

READ MORE | South Cape woman gets a second chance at happiness after losing her entire family in a crash

After the incident Kim could no longer practice as an advocate as she was unable to sit or stand for long. In May 2016 she opened a successful beauty salon in Northcliff, Joburg, which she also managed.

In her interview with YOU, she said the new business had helped to lift the depression she had slumped into.

“Not for a moment do we believe Kim took her own life,” Douglas says. 


His daughter was passionate about her new career and was also in a relationship. She and Anthony Doyle, a Johannesburg restaurateur, were planning to get engaged soon. In the past two years the couple had lived just down the road from Douglas and Pat.

Kim was also looking forward to going on holiday with her parents again on 7 May. 

“Gosh,” her dad says, “she was so excited about it.”

You can read YOU’s 2018 interview with Kim here.

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