TWO police officers on duty in Parow were killed in the early hours of Christmas morning when a driver suspected of being drunk and speeding apparently jumped a red traffic light and smashed into their patrol van.
The impact of the crash flung Glynnis Lorenzo, 38, a sergeant, and Quinton Snell, 33, a constable, who were both stationed in Parow, from their vehicle.
Both died at the scene, while the four occupants of the silver BMW that crashed into them sustained moderate to serious injuries.
Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said Lorenzo and Snell were on a visible policing patrol when they were killed.
He said the driver of the BMW, who had been taken to hospital following the crash, would be charged with culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving once discharged.
Van Wyk said a blood alcohol test had been performed on the driver.
Based on the test results, the driver could be charged with drunk driving.
Van Wyk said Snell was from Belhar.
Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle said the driver had tested positive for a blood alcohol level of more than the legal limit of 0.05g per 100ml of blood.
“(The driver) will certainly be charged with driving under the influence,” he said.
Lorenzo and Snell were among 148 people killed on the province’s roads since December 1, up on last year’s figure, said Carlisle.
The crash at 2.10am was on the corner of Market and De la Rey streets in Parow while Lorenzo and Snell were on patrol.
Carlisle said the police van had entered an intersection legally, while the BMW had entered the intersection illegally.
“It skipped a red traffic light,” Carlisle said.
Earlier this month the Cape Times reported that more than 80 motorists a day were fined for skipping red traffic lights, but the city could not install more cameras because courts did not have the capacity to prosecute more cases.
Witnesses had said the BMW had been travelling at high speed, said Carlisle.
In a phone interview with the Cape Times, Lorenzo’s sister, Deidre Gordon said her family was grappling with the news.
“It’s very difficult. It’s something that must still sink in. We do feel (those who were in the BMW) need to be punished, but God has a plan,” she said.
Gordon said Lorenzo had moved to Parow about three years ago where she had lived alone.
She was very passionate about her job, Gordon said.
“The reason she was on the road was because she’s a people’s person, she didn’t like to be deskbound.”
A number of Lorenzo’s and Snell’s colleagues posted condolence messages on Facebook.
One message said Snell was the father of a baby who was only three weeks old.
“It is with great sadness that we at Parow SAPS are experiencing a black Christmas as we are mourning the death of two great officers. Guys, this is the time to grow stronger in love and peace with each other. Keep each other in our prayers,” the colleague said.
Another colleague wrote: “I took over the accident scene where I lost two Beloved Colleagues on this Christmas Morning, it’s not a pretty sight, Sgt (Lolla) lerenzo and Cst Snell you will be dearly missed RIP, PAROW SAPS SALUTE YOU!!!” (sic)
Yesterday Carlisle said the road death toll in the Western Cape since December 1 was 148.
While he did not have the figure for the same period last year on hand, he said this year’s number was higher than last year’s.
“Next year we’ll have to look at a different kind of approach for the season,” he said.
“We will aim the campaign next year at the ordinary citizen in his motorcar,” Carlisle said.
According to provincial statistics, 114 motorists were arrested for drunk driving around the province from December 1 until yesterday – with the highest reading of six times the legal blood alcohol limit recorded in Knysna.
Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Ashraf Ismail said that as of Sunday, the national road death toll stood at 980.
But he added that based on unofficial figures since then, it now probably stood at more than 1 000 deaths.
“All those 1 000-plus families are now preparing for memorial services and every year from now (they) will go through this when it’s supposed to be a time of peace, love and joy,” Ismail said.
The official updated road death toll figure would be released by Monday.