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Lindenberg 'lucky to be alive' after crash

Published Sep 30, 2002

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Doctors have confirmed that South African powerboat ace Peter Lindenberg was lucky to escape death over the weekend in a 220km/h crash.

Lindenberg, the 15-times national Formula One powerboat champion, crashed his boat while chasing his closest rival, Mark Shepherd, in the third heat of the Saldanha Formula One Grand Prix.

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Peter Chapman, pulmonary specialist at the hospital at which Lindenberg has been since late Saturday night, said: "We can be very grateful that he survived."

Chapman was upbeat about the racing legend's chances, although it would only be known on Monday whether Lindenberg suffered brain damage.

According to Jan Johnson, promoter of the Formula One series, Lindenberg was clearly pushing it: "I could see that he was trying his best to catch Mark (Shepherd), but there were quite a few occasions when he lived close to the edge."

"I arrived on the scene and started counting the number of National Port Authority boats and realised that Peter's boat was still underwater. The rescue team tried to roll his boat and I realised that Peter was still strapped in his cockpit," said Shepherd.

Lindenberg's teammate, Ian Mather, dived into the water to help a rescue team remove the steering wheel, because control cables had wrapped around it.

Said Mather: "He must have been underwater for the best part of two-and-a-half minutes. When I saw him he was blue and foaming. It did not look good."

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Race doctor Karen Schwaber was able to resuscitate the injured man before he was taken by ambulance to the Vredenburg Hospital.

Ryk Lochner said, after he had treated the injured racer, that "he was cyanotic blue when he came in due to lack of oxygen, and he had aspirated sea-water which damaged his lungs."

Lochner added that Lindenberg's right lung was not functioning at the time and the left lung had large quantities of sea-water in it. Lochner gave him a less than 50 percent chance of survival at that stage.

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By late Saturday night Lindenberg had improved enough to be airlifted to Vincent Pallotti Hospital. Upon arrival he required 100 percent support from a respirator, but by Sunday morning this had dropped to 40 percent.

Johnson said that Lindenberg started showing signs of life on Sunday afternoon and that he hoped Lindenberg would regain consciousness some time on Monday morning.

Apart from being the country's foremost powerboat exponent, Lindenberg also won national colours 47 times for barefoot skiing and broke the world record for barefoot jumping.

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Recently he started stock car racing and was part of a consortium that bought the Gosforth Park Horseracing Course with the aim of converting it into the first stadium racecourse for cars in the country.

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