Girl scalped in freak go-karting accident

By Time of article published Jul 22, 2003

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By A'eyasha Kassiem

The 10-year-old girl scalped in a go-karting accident at the Canal Walk shopping centre in Cape Town is the second whose hair has become entangled in an indoor Grand Prix kart.

Andrea Katzeff's waist-length hair became caught in the rear axle, ripping off her scalp, while she was driving a go-kart capable of a top speed of 40km/h on Saturday.

Andrea, from Welgemoed, was rushed to the N1 City hospital. She has had a skin graft and is in intensive care. Her condition is "stable".

The owner and manager of the Indoor Grand Prix track, Wayne Yates, said that several years ago, before the track moved from the V&A Waterfront to Canal Walk, a girl's hair became caught in the chain at the back of a go-kart.

"But her injuries were not life-threatening," he said.

Declining to give further details, he said Andrea's accident was being investigated.

The girl's father, Neill Katzeff, said Andrea had gone to the Indoor Grand Prix with a friend and the friend's mother. He had no idea his daughter was going to ride go-karts.

"There is no way on God's Earth I would have let my daughter go go-kart racing," he said.

"She's 10 years old. She's only a little girl."

Andrea's mother, Natalie, said that when she was told about the accident, she became "hysterical".

But she had no hard feelings towards the friend and the friend's mother, she said.

They had visited Andrea in hospital.

"They came to visit my little girl and I'm sure it must have been horrific for (the other mother), too. I'm sure she did everything she could," she said.

An attorney for Indoor Grand Prix, Michael O' Reilly, said the incident had been a "freak accident".

He said regular safety checks were carried out by Century City.

A number of cautionary boards were on display at the track and many safety measures were in place, O'Reilly said.

He was "certain" that no fault could be attributed to his client.

"As far as we are aware, Mr Yates has the proper safety measures in place to ensure an enjoyable and fun outing for the whole family."

These safety measures included the presence of marshals, personnel, and supervisors at all times, he said.

"If you compared the karts at the Indoor Grand Prix with international karts, there would be no difference."

Commenting on the first incident in which a girl's hair had become entangled in a chain, O'Reilly said: "Minor injuries are the nature of the Indoor Grand Prix as well as the nature of the sport, but precautions are taken every time to upgrade safety."

N1 City hospital spokesperson Marianna Dorman said Andrea was stable after having a skin graft on Saturday night.

She said a decision would be taken tonight on whether more grafts were necessary.

"We are taking it day by day," she said.

Natalie Katzeff said: "(Andrea) is being very strong - it's unbelievable."

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