When Noordhoek mother Ingrid Altmann received a phone call one Saturday afternoon, the last thing she expected to hear was that her 11-year-old son had been involved in a car accident.
What had begun as a get-together at a friend’s house ended in trauma.
Luke, who has a twin sister, had been hit by a car while skateboarding with friends. He had multiple fractures to his pelvis, three bowel perforations and a broken arm.
Luke has spent the past three weeks - two of them in intensive care - at Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital, where he has had two operations, and doctors consider him “lucky to be alive”.
Professor Sebastian van As, head of Red Cross’s trauma unit and president of Childsafe SA, says road accidents remain the top non-natural cause of death among children in South Africa.
August is recognised as child safety month.
Childsafe SA has embarked on a campaign with Woolworths to make parents and adults more aware of accidents, and what steps to take when they occur.
Dubbed “You’re bigger. Be the adult”, the campaign raises awareness of the need to pay attention to child safety.
Van As said although there were no formal statistics on child road deaths in the Western Cape, there were between 200 and 300 trauma cases a year, between 70 and 90 percent of which were the result of car accidents. In 80 percent of the cases the children had been pedestrians and 20 percent passengers, many were not buckled up.
“Our research has shown a child in Cape Town is 10 times more likely to die in a car crash and 25 times more likely to end up in hospital than a child in Birmingham,” Van As said. “Those figures should worry all of us. Most are avoidable accidents.” - Cape Argus