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Pietermaritzburg - Yet another crash on the N3 at Town Hill has claimed a life.

A man was killed and another seriously injured when the truck they were travelling in crashed several metres down an embankment on Town Hill on Tuesday night.

A resident nearby heard a loud crash and called ER24 paramedics, indicating that a crash might have occurred on the highway.

Shortly before midnight, paramedics from ER24 arrived at the scene where they found a large truck trailer completely obstructing the N3 highway.

The cabin of the truck could not be found, but on further inspection they found it had been ripped from the truck and landed several metres further down the embankment. ER24 paramedics had to use ropes to descend to reach the cabin.

They found a man, believed to be the driver, already dead.

Another man, believed to be 26 years old, was lying in the back of the cabin with multiple fractures. Paramedics were unable to free him from the wreckage and had to call local fire and rescue services to assist with specialised equipment to cut open the truck.

Once freed, the injured man was hoisted up the embankment to a waiting ambulance. He was later transported to Northdale Hospital.

The exact cause of the incident is not yet known.

Rescue and clean-up operations took several hours before the highway was re-opened to traffic yesterday morning.

The N3 on that stretch of road has become synonymous with fatal crashes.

On Monday, Town Hill was closed to traffic for over 24 hours following a tanker explosion. Motorists spent 12 hours in stationary traffic following the blaze.

The tanker, a police car and two construction vehicles were involved in the collision near the Peter Brown off-ramp.

The tanker – carrying ethanol –- burst into flames. The other vehicles also caught fire – leaving two people dead and seven hurt.

An RTI officer who is not authorised to speak to the media, told the Daily News on Wednesday that the N3 leading from Town Hill down toward Pieter­maritzburg was considered a hot spot for truck accidents in the province.

“Some officers have renamed the stretch of road Death Hill due to the large number of crashes,” the officer said.

He said that usually trucks travelling downhill experienced overheating of their brakes, which could fail due to the heat.

There are two compulsory stops for trucks on that part of the N3, one near Hilton and the other near the arrester bed just before Town Hill.

These are to slow the trucks and to make them engage a lower gear.

However, the RTI officer said that usually truck drivers avoided the stops so that they could reach to their destinations on time.


Other crashes on Town Hill:

* February 2015 – 24 cars involved in separate incidents on N3 at Town Hill in the space of two days. The first involved a 16-car pile-up, with an 8-vehicle pile-up (including two trucks) the next day.

Four people were critically injured and several others suffered minor injuries as a result of both crashes

* July 2014 – Truck driver killed after truck overturned on N3 at Town Hill

* May 2013 – Five people were injured when a truck and a minibus collided on the N3 southbound on Town Hill

* November 2012 – Six people were injured when an SA Roadlink bus hit a truck on the N3 near the Peter Brown off-ramp on Town Hill.

* May 2012 – A truck driver, George Mbanda, died after his horse and trailer crashed on the same stretch of road on Town Hill. The Road Traffic Inspectorate believes the truck’s brakes jammed.

* January 2012 – A runaway truck crashed at the Midlands Mall, killing 69-year-old Alice Jogessar.

* July 2011– A truck plunged off the Chatterton Road bridge on the N3 southbound, injuring two people and forcing a road closure of about four hours, delaying work on the N3 upgrade project.

* December 2006 – an SA Roadlink bus crashed into the bridge opposite Liberty Midlands Mall on Christmas Eve in 2006, killing 12 people.