Cape Town - A top South African triathlete and two other cyclists have survived a hit-and-run outside Cape Town - and the driver has been hunted down after quick-thinking riders raised the alarm.
One of the three cyclists hit, Dr Ignatius Wentzel, said on Sunday night: “We were cruising along very nicely. Sometimes we ride two abreast, but we were in single file.”
He was short of breath, due to a collapsed lung, and battled to speak properly.
“The next minute, I heard the crash. And the bakkie and the bikes came into me and we were knocked off.
“I just lay there. But I knew that people were hit and hurt. I knew I must get up,” said the doctor.
One rider was seriously injured, he could see, and his friend, Olga Koorts, was lying near him.
Koorts recently received her national colours for triathlon, and was training for the world triathlon champs in London in mid-September.
Wentzel reported that she may have broken her elbow.
His condition, for which the medical term is “pneumothorax” - air in the lung cavity - may require further attention too, he reported.
“But I’m very glad to be alive. I hit a post next to the road with my chest.
“The chap right at the back, he was really rattled, as it all happened in front of him, but he gave the call for the chase, and I’m very pleased that this driver was arrested,” Wentzel said.
Ralph Rudd, the chairman of Wannabees Cycling Club, said: “The guys were out on a normal club ride.
“We split up into different groups when we ride - this group was doing about an 80km ride. They were on their way back on the R304, from Joostenberg back to Stellenbosch, at around 9.30am.
“There were five of them in a row, in single file, well inside the yellow line, when a bakkie hit into them from behind.
“He missed the last guy and ploughed into the three middle riders - a woman and two men - and sped off.
“Clayton Hindle was the last rider, who was missed. He checked how the three riders were, and established that they were all talking, at least, and then had the presence of mind to stop a motorist.
“He asked the driver to please chase after the bakkie, and gave him his cellphone number,” Rudd explained.
In the minutes that followed, they attended to the injured.
Hindle then received a message on his cellphone, with a photo of the escaping bakkie’s licence plate, shot by the motorist giving chase.
“Clayton forwarded the photo to his wife, who is with the security services, and she contacted the police.”
It is not clear which unit responded - SAPS or provincial traffic - but by the time the injured cyclists had been taken away from the scene, they received word that the driver had been arrested by Stellenbosch police.
Rudd said one of the riders had been held in hospital overnight with “massive chest pains” and pains in his leg.
All three are from Somerset West.
“The carnage has got to stop,” Rudd demanded. “It’s broad daylight, sunny skies. The guys are out there obeying the rules. We don’t ride in large groups - deliberately - we ride in single file, inside the yellow line, obeying all the rules of the road. And here comes this driver, into the yellow line, and smashes into them.”
Meanwhile, about an hour later, a Cape Town man was arrested after smashing into two cyclists on Chapman’s Peak Drive.
The Western Cape provincial Emergency Medical Service’s Keri Davids said it appeared a car had hit one cyclist from behind.
“Air Mercy Service was called shortly before 11am. The cyclist sustained minor neck injuries and was airlifted to Vincent Pallotti hospital. A paramedic reported that he was in a stable condition.”
Police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana reported a driver had been arrested and charged with reckless and negligent driving. “It is alleged that a Golf hit a 49-year-old cyclist from Sea Point. It is not clear when he will appear in court. The investigation continues.”
Late on Sunday afternoon, the man, from Ocean View, was still in custody in the Hout Bay police station’s cells.