A holiday in the Kruger National Park (KNP) ended in tragedy when an accident claimed the lives of five people on the road between the Phalaborwa entrance gate and the Mopani rest camp in the Park on Thursday November 29, 2007.
It is believed that the accident took place at about 16h45. A KNP official's wife found the disorientated driver of the vehicle at the accident scene, a single causeway across the Letaba River, and took him to the Nxanatseni south regional ranger's office at the Phalaborwa gate complex, arriving there at about 18h40.
Regional ranger, Louis Olivier, took the driver to the Phalaborwa hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and shock. In the meantime, Kruger rangers and emergency services from the Phalaborwa disaster management services rushed to the scene.
"It is believed that the driver of the vehicle, a rented Landrover, 'miscalculated' the approach to the causeway, overcorrected and hit the side of the bridge, flipping over and landing on its roof in the water below," said Raymond Travers, spokesperson for the KNP.
According to Raymond there was severe damage to the doors and windows of the car and the airbags of the vehicle inflated. "On questioning, the driver had no idea how he managed to escape," said Raymond.
"When we first heard about the accident, we were shocked and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends," said Dr Bandile Mkhize, managing executive of KNP, who visited the scene of the accident and the driver, an Austrian tourist, who was still extremely traumatised on Friday, November 30.
Sanparks has been in contact with the Austrian embassy since Friday to ensure the next of kin are informed as soon as possible. "The Austrian party were booked into Mopani rest camp for three nights and were due to fly from OR Tambo International Airport to Cape Town on December 7," says Raymond. "We would like to thank Daan and Zena's guest house for their kind assistance during this traumatic time," he adds.