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Kimberley - ILLEGAL drag racing, which has become synonymous with Phakamile Mabija Road over weekends, ended in a dice with death in the early hours of yesterday morning when 24-year-old Lionel Coleman lost control of his vehicle, resulting in it rolling several times.
Coleman, who was a member of the South African National Defence Force and had the weekend off, was declared dead at the scene.
The impact of the accident uprooted a tree in the main road, which resulted in a pipe burst as well as a fault in the electrical cable of a nearby street light.
According to witnesses, it is believed that Coleman was drag racing from Kim-by-Nite towards the city centre when the accident happened.
Police spokesman, Lieutenant Olebogeng Tawana, confirmed that the driver of the charcoal BMW was killed after losing control of his vehicle in Phakamile Mabija Road in the early hours of yesterday morning.
“The BMW rolled and hit a tree. The engine of the vehicle was flung almost 20 metres from the scene of the impact.”
He added that the driver was declared dead at the scene while his passenger was taken to hospital for treatment for injuries sustained during the accident.
“The Kimberley police are investigating a case of culpable homicide.”
Witnesses said the car was travelling at a high speed and allegedly skipped the red robot before the driver apparently lost control. The car hit the pavement and rolled several times before crashing into a tree and coming to a standstill against the boundary wall of a nearby house.
It is believed that before the incident, the vehicle was parked in the KFC parking area opposite Revito, where there was an event featuring a performing artist.
The owner of the house where the vehicle crashed, Yvonne Pailman, said she was sleeping but her daughter was sitting outside on the veranda with her boyfriend.
“I woke up when I heard the crash and I went to see what had happened.”
She said that the woman in the passenger’s seat was helped out of the vehicle by two bystanders.
Pailman said they brought her into the house and she was shaken and frightened. “She kept saying that her mother was going to scold her. She was not bleeding but said she had pain in her legs and back.”
Pailman said it took the police more than two hours to clean the scene of the accident. “Yesterday morning we had to pick up all the glass and vehicle parts which were still lying in the front yard.”
Pailman pointed out that it was not the first time that a vehicle crashed into their house. “This road has become very dangerous.
“We live in fear and are always expecting the worst, especially when people start racing.”
She added that although drag racing was illegal, it happened every weekend. “The police don’t do anything about it. They just stand and watch.
“The starting point is usually Kim-by-Nite and then they come speeding down the street. “Children in this neighbourhood are not even allowed to cross the street alone at night and they have to play in the yard.”
Pailman added that the family of the deceased came to see where their son had died.
Yesterday traumatised family members, including Coleman’s mother, went to Mark’s Towing where the vehicle was taken after the accident.
“The family did not want her to come but she insisted on seeing the car for herself,” a witness said.
Coleman’s mother was too upset to speak to the media.
A cousin, Henry Coleman, described Lionel as the reliable person in the family. “He had been working for the South African National Defence Force for couple of years.
“He was friendly and easygoing. He always respected his adults and took responsibility for his mother and three siblings.”
He added that the mother of Coleman’s son was in the vehicle at the time of the accident and added that she was still in the Kimberley Hospital.
“We haven’t gone to see her yet because we understand that it must be very traumatic for her and her family, we are planning to engage with her and the family.”
He said that the family was planning to seek counselling to assist in dealing with the traumatic death. “Visiting the scene and viewing the vehicle is the first part of healing.
“It’s tough to accept his death and going to the scene was extremely shocking for all of us. This is a young man, whose life was just starting.”