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Johannesburg - Three years ago, Johnny Claasen’s 21-year-old-daughter Doronitha was killed when an unlicensed driver rammed into her, crushing her into the wall she was leaning on.
A year earlier, his only son Denzel had died when another motorist smashed into his car.
Last year, Claasen’s wife Dorothy, unable to deal with the pain of losing her children, died of heartache.
Then on Monday morning, the 58-year-old man was home when Doronitha’s twin sister Doney rushed into the house screaming.
“Daddy, Daddy, Rosaline has been in an accident,” the horrified Doney shouted.
Within a few seconds Claasen was inside his car. With Doney beside him, he took the N1 North, with hazards on and driving on the yellow lane from Eldorado Park, south of Joburg, to Constantia Kloof in Roodepoort.
Claasen was not prepared to lose another child.
What he did not know was that a truck carrying bricks from Vanderbijlpark had come from downhill just after the 14th Avenue on-ramp, veered out of control and smashed into vehicles on the N1.
The truck kept moving, uncontrollably. In an attempt to control it and bring it to a stop, the driver steered towards the concrete barrier.
He then smashed into Rosaline Moola’s vehicle, pushing it against the barrier. Moola was trapped between the truck filled with bricks and the barrier. Paramedics had to use the Jaws of Life to free her.
When he arrived at the scene, Claasen could not believe what he saw – his daughter’s car had jumped from the one side of the road to the oncoming traffic and was on its roof.
Near the car was the body of a man who had been flung from the back of a bakkie that had also been involved in the accident.
Bricks were scattered on the road and people were crying and shouting. Claasen’s daughter was nowhere to be found.
“What I saw is the stuff you see in the movies, not in real life. People were crying… it was madness,” he said.
A tow truck driver told him that Moola was on her way to Garden City Clinic in an ambulance. They followed it there, but upon arrival they could not speak to her as she was still in shock. They caught a glimpse of her before she was taken to the intensive care unit.
“She travels on that road daily on her way to work in Douglasdale and luckily, she had just dropped her three-year-old daughter at a creche just next to the 14th Avenue on-ramp.
“She went to church on Sunday, and maybe God said it was not her turn yet,” he said.
While Moola is still in ICU and doing better, Claasen’s eyes filled with tears when he spoke about how car crashes took two of his children, and ended up making him a widower.
Four years ago, his son Denzel was travelling next to Fun Valley in Eldorado Park when he was killed.
The following year, Claasen bought his then 21-year-old daughter Doronitha a black Corsa.
A few days later, an excited Doronitha drove around Eldorado Park to show her friends the car. As the friends admired her car, a BMW careered onto the kerb and rammed into Doronitha, who was leaning against a wall.
While the person believed to be responsible for Denzel’s death was never arrested, Doronitha’s killer – a man she had attended high school with –was arrested.
“But he was given a suspended sentence. But what can you do? The government needs to look at this,” Claasen said as tears streamed down his face.