Bodies flung 40m after high-speed crash on M4 freeway
A horror accident that claimed the lives of a popular Port Elizabeth chef and two friends when the sports car they were travelling in crashed off the M4 freeway, through barriers and onto railway tracks, has devastated family and friends.
Grass Roof chef Hilton Crous, 27, his friend Jarryd Athol McKinnon, 26, and another friend, Philip Weyer-Henderson, 50, were in a two-seater Audi R8 sports car when it smashed into the pavement adjacent to the M4 near the Mount Road off-ramp at about 8pm on Sunday.
The men’s bodies were found between 30m and 40m from the mangled wreckage of the high-performance car, which had been travelling towards Summerstrand at the time of the crash.
All three are past pupils of Grey High School.
Weyer-Henderson, a Jansenville stock farmer, came originally from the Somerset East area; McKinnon was from Port Elizabeth, while Jeffreys Bay-born Crous was a chef at the popular Grass Roof restaurant and farm stall in Sardinia Bay.
Past pupils of Grey High and Grass Roof management posted messages of condolence on their Facebook pages yesterday.
It is not known at this stage where the three were travelling from or where they were headed.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alwin Labans said the cause of the crash had still to be determined and that the wreckage had been impounded.
“It is believed the driver lost control of the car, which hit the barriers on the side of the road and rolled onto the train tracks,” he said.
It is not known who was driving the vehicle as the men were flung in different directions and were found a distance from the wreckage.
Officials on the scene said it appeared that the driver lost control when the Audi hit the pavement and then the guardrails, before launching into the boundary fence of the railway lines.
After smashing through the fence, the car crashed into a high-voltage support beam over the railway tracks, where it came to a halt.
Metro EMS operations manager and paramedic Ashwell Botha confirmed that the men had been found a distance from the wreckage.
Crying Grass Roof owner Nicky Charlewood described Crous as a people’s person who was loved by all.
She said Crous had been working at the restaurant for about two years.
“People just loved him. He was a wonderful person,” she said.
Charlewood said she had decided not to open the restaurant yesterday.
“We will have to get ourselves sorted out tomorrow [today] and then wait to see when the funeral is.”
Crous’s childhood friend, Phillip Morgan, 27, described him as a tough but kind-hearted individual.
“He was a great guy – he might have been considered to be big and rough but he had the biggest heart you could encounter,” he said.
“We [friends] are all in shock because the three of them were taken so suddenly and so tragically. “I’m not sure of all of the details of the accident or when the funeral will be, right now everyone is just trying to cope with this tragic news.”
Jansenville farmer Francois Nel, whose farm is about 30km from Weyer-Henderson’s stock farm, said: “The whole community is shocked.
“He was such a very, very nice guy who enjoyed life. I don’t think he had any enemies.”
Nel said he was particularly saddened for Weyer-Henderson’s three daughters, all students at Stellenbosch University.
“Our hearts go out to them, especially after the tragedy of their mother,” he said, referring to Weyer-Henderson’s wife, Lize, who drowned three years ago while trying to save a dog in a dam.
“It’s tragic. We just can’t believe this has happened again to the same family.”
He said many people in the area had been unable to work yesterday as they mourned the loss of a man who was a well-respected person and an excellent businessman.
“He was a stock farmer whose family went back generations. He was the fourth or fifth generation on that farm.
“It’s still very hard to talk about this,” Nel said.
Albert van Eeden, a family friend of the McKinnons, said: “I saw Jarryd four weeks ago when he was here in Cape Town. I can’t believe he was taken so young.
“My heart goes out to his two small boys and his wife.
“We are absolutely devastated. He was such a good guy, a real go-getter.
“He was the type of person who did everything for his family.”
The car is believed to have been bought recently by Weyer-Henderson. However, police are still waiting to confirm the ownership details.