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Family and friends were left reeling at the news that three matric pupils were killed in a horror crash in Strandfontein during the early hours yesterday – just two days before their last exam and a week before their matric farewell.
The Mondale High School pupils’ Toyota Corolla was crushed after colliding with a Golden Arrow bus in Mitchells Plain at 6am yesterday.
The jaws of life were used to free them from the wreckage.
Keenan Smith and Kelly Ford died on impact, and Leigh Anne Swail was resuscitated on the scene and airlifted to Groote Schuur hospital where she died a short while later.
All three were 18 years old.
A fourth passenger, Nazan Klaasens, 20, is in a stable condition in Groote Schuur Hospital.
He is an office management student and up-and-coming soccer star.
Golden Arrow spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke said the accident was being investigated and the driver had been suspended.
”As with any accident, our protocol is to immediately suspend the driver pending the outcome of the investigation.
“According to statements taken from witnesses, the bus was crossing an intersection when the car tried to turn and ended up underneath the bus.
“We will conduct further investigations before making any decision as to what may have happened,” said Dyke.
The four were returning from a night out in the city, Klaasen’s mother, Freda, told Weekend Argus at the hospital yesterday.
She said her son had not yet been told his three friends had died.
“He’s in a lot of pain and has lots of bruises, but nothing is broken. He’s still very confused, but doctors say he’s fine and doesn’t have brain damage,” she said.
She described Smith as “a humble guy who respected older people”.
Klaasens said her son and Smith left her home in Woodlands, Mitchells Plain at 5 pm yesterday to go to Blue Downs, where her son had played in a soccer match.
She saw the two friends again briefly after the match when they told her they were going out in Cape Town.
According to friends, Smith had planned to study human resource management or marketing next year.
Tamryn Eiman described Swail as a sweet but very outspoken person. Other friends said Swail loved modelling and took every opportunity at school to strut her stuff. “She loved the camera,” the friend said.
Ford was known as “the one who always made jokes”. She was also a keen soccer player.
“She loved her son so much and was always showing us pictures of him,” a classmate said.
A friend said: “Kelly and Leigh were very close and spent a lot of time together. They were both energetic and always the life of the party.”
Another friend said Smith had been an avid soccer player and was part of the Mondale school team that recently won the Mr Price schools tournament.
“I remember during the last Afrikaans paper, my pen ran out of ink. Keenan was sitting next to me and gave me a pen. Now when we write the final paper there will only be an empty desk,” the friend said.
Last night pupils at Mondale High School comforted each other during a vigil for the three and dressed in their yellow and blue matric blazers
Their parents were too traumatised to attend.
Mondale vice-principal Nigel Crowie said the school has been devastated by the deaths.
“I’ve spoken to the pupils as well as the parents of the children, who are clearly traumatised by what has happened. There will probably be many unanswered questions as to what happened and why, but we will mourn the loss of three wonderful young people.”
Bronagh Casey, Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman, said the department had sent its condolences to the families.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this sad and tragic event and we hope that the fourth victim has a speedy recovery.
“We are also concerned for their fellow classmates and pupils who will be writing their English exam tomorrow. We have made counsellors and psychiatric support available should they need it.”
Dozens of condolence messages poured in on Facebook following the accident as shocked relatives and friends come to terms with the tragedy.
Yesterday afternoon, some of the mourners placed a bouquet of white flowers at the intersection where the accident took place.