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Durban - Durbanite John Stewart appears to have cheated death a second time. He walked away unscathed when the runaway truck in the Field’s Hill crash demolished the rear of his car on Thursday night.
The truck crashed into four taxis, killing 22 people. Fifteen people were still in hospital on Sunday.
Stewart, 64, left the accident scene without a scratch, one of the survivors of the bloody crash which has been described as the worst in the city’s history.
He was on his way to Pinetown to fetch his brother-in-law when the truck slammed into the back of his Toyota Corolla.
“I was at the intersection and the robot was red. I stopped. The robot then turned green and I took off. All I heard was a loud bang and my car spun around one and a half times. When the car stopped spinning, I was facing oncoming traffic,” he said.
Stewart said he sat in the car for two minutes, dazed and shocked, wondering what had hit him.
“I never saw the truck. I looked across and saw a crumpled taxi. I thought that was what had hit me,” he said.
When he got out of his car, a tow truck driver approached and asked if he was okay.
“I said I thought the taxi across the road hit me. But he told me I had been hit by an 18-wheeler truck that had lost its brakes… I went around the back to see the damage and there was nothing from the rear wheels of my car. The back of the car had been ripped off,” he said.
Stewart walked around the accident scene and saw two “really crumpled taxis” and two other badly damaged taxis.
Body parts were strewn all over and injured people lay on the road, helpless.
“If I had driven off a second slower, the truck would have hit me dead centre. I would have been a statistic. Those trucks need to be stopped. They can’t carry on using Field’s Hill,” he said.
In 1978, Stewart, a father of three, narrowly escaped death when he was involved in a truck accident.
He had taken the Spine Road turn-off from the N3, going home to Westville.
“An 18-wheeler truck was going up and I was following. The truck had no visible light. All I remember was going under it. I hit the truck’s back wheels and the car bounced back. The top of my car was taken off,” he said.
Stewart was in hospital for three months after breaking a thigh bone and elbow and suffering head cuts.
His wife Janys, 56, described him as a miracle man.