School kids in horror crash

Karen van Rooyen

WHAT was supposed to be a fun weekend away on a family farm turned into tragedy for a group of Graaff-Reinet friends when two of them died in a car crash near Hanover in the Northern Cape at the weekend.

Andrea van Dalen, 15, and Owen Harvey, 20, died when the car in which they were travelling rolled on a gravel farm road.

The driver, Jade Naudé, 18, and her brother, Guy, 21, were seriously injured. A fifth passenger, Dwane Fourie, was slightly injured.

The siblings’ father, Barry, said yesterday they were doing “okayish”.

“My daughter, Jade, has broken her leg and pelvis and has a few cuts on her face,” he said.

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“My son broke three vertebrae in his neck and back. It is serious, he’s on a ventilator but doing alright.”

Naudé said Jade had undergone an operation on Sunday to insert a plate in her leg. She was due to have a second plate inserted today.

Guy, who is in a medically induced coma, was due to undergo two procedures to fuse his vertebrae later this week, he said.

“He can move his feet but he has loss of sensation in one hand,” Naudé said.

“They will start to bring him out of the coma on Friday if all goes well and he should be fully conscious by Sunday. He will be on the ventilator until he can breathe on his own.”

Naudé said his children came from Graaff-Reinet to visit the family merino sheep farm, Driekoppen, every weekend.

This time, they had brought along Jade’s Union High School matric classmate, Dwane, and Guy’s girlfriend, Andrea.

Just 12 hours before the accident, Jade, posted on Facebook: “Nights we will never remember with friends we will never forget; Thanks for last night my friends** You guys are insane … haha”

Naudé said the group had gone into town on Saturday morning.

“My son brought his girlfriend with him and it was her first weekend at the farm so they went to show her Hanover.

“They met Owen, a road construction site foreman from Johannesburg, at a hotel and invited him to come back to the farm,” he said.

At around 9pm Naudé received the dreaded call – his “worst nightmare” – from Dwane, saying they had been involved in an accident on the gravel road between Hanover and the farm, about 40km away.

Jade, who obtained her driver’s licence three months ago, had been driving a Volkswagen Polo when she lost control of the car and it rolled several times. Naudé believes she may have hit a ditch in the road.

“Dwane was slightly injured and found one of the cellphones lying in the road. He told my wife there were two people dead.”

But their nightmare was far from over – after the siblings were taken to a local hospital, the family had to wait a further seven hours before a private ambulance arrived to take them to Mediclinic Bloemfontein.

Owen’s stepfather, Garth Taylor, said the father-to-be had arrived in the area on Thursday to work on a project to rebuild the road between De Aar and Middelburg.

He said Owen’s girlfriend, due to give birth to their son at the end of October, was admitted to hospital with high blood pressure as a result of the shock.

The family did not blame Jade or her family for the accident, Taylor said.

Hanover station commander Captain Danie Mostert said a case of culpable homicide was being investigated.

“At this stage, we don’t know [what the situation is],” he said.

Naudé said while he was glad his children had been spared, he was sad for the other families.

“I want to send them my sympathies.”

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