Two cyclists killed by alleged drunk driver
Durban - The sound of glass shattering and the crunch of bicycle frames as a car crashed into two cyclists in Durban North at speed early on Sunday are what haunts their comrades.
Kings Park Cycling Club member Jared Dwyer and chairman Richard da Silva, both in their forties, were part of an 80km ride from Blue Lagoon towards Umhlanga at 5am when a black VW Golf GTI, whose driver was allegedly drunk, crashed into them. The pair were launched more than 20m ahead of their 30-strong group.
Paramedics of several different groups responded, but the men died at the scene near the Swapo Road (Broadway) off-ramp from the M4.
The other cyclists avoided injury because they were ahead of the two victims.
As police were securing the scene, a second black VW crashed into one of their vehicles; the driver was charged with drunk driving and reckless and negligent driving.
Brigadier Jay Naicker said police arrested the 33-year-old driver who struck the cyclists and he would be charged with drunk driving and culpable homicide.
“Both suspects will appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court.”
Wayne Campbell, one of the club’s senior members, told The Mercury that he had been riding far ahead of the two victims.
“They were right at the back because Jared had joined us late. Richard slowed down to chat with him. They must have been more than 20m behind the rest of us.”
The cyclists were riding in the yellow demarcated area on the left side of the road.
“There was no screeching or skidding – just a bang. They flew through the air with the sheer force of the impact and landed in front of us, and we stopped to try and help. We did what we could, but we knew …”
He said it appeared that the VW and a white car – identified in unconfirmed reports as a Mini Cooper – were racing around the corner when the accident took place.
Da Silva’s wife, Sonya Ferreira, was among the group of cyclists and was “severely traumatised” by the incident, said Campbell.
Another cyclist in the group, Navesh Maharaj, said he had also been far ahead of the pair when tragedy struck.
“There was a bakkie driver who was driving on the left side of the road. The VW was on the left. The VW was speeding and trying to pass the bakkie. I think he realised at the last minute how close he was to the bakkie and tried to get away but ended up hitting the kerb on the right, losing control.”
It was then, he said, that Dwyer and Da Silva were killed.
“This is generally a social ride, but a lot of the cyclists are training for the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour. We choose this time of day because there is no traffic. You don’t expect something like this to happen.”
Yusuf Kadwa, who worked with Dwyer through Solomons Cycles, which sponsored his attempt at “Everesting” (to reach a total elevation that is the equivalent of Mt Everest) in 2014, said his loss was a blow to the community.
“Road safety is a problem for cyclists, and to lose them this way is unacceptable.”
Last year, there were several accidents involving cyclists and vehicles.
In September, a cyclist died after being struck by a truck in Durban North, and another was seriously injured in the same area in June.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu said all motorists in the province should be reminded of the tragic death of world-renowned cyclist Burry Stander in 2013, and use his memory to prioritise the safety of cyclists.
Meanwhile, on Facebook tributes for the slain pair poured in.
Maxine Keet wrote a post dedicated to Dwyer, who was also a paddler and Ironman participant: “Today I lost my first love, the person I spent eight years with growing, learning, laughing and challenging each other. We may have split up recently, but the years we spent together helped shape the person I am today.”
Another friend, Craig Bishop, said: “I lost two friends today, two amazing people that I shared hours of amazing, gruelling unforgettable hours in the saddle with. Two men that had so much passion for our sport and were loved and respected by those that knew them … I’ll always ride with both of you in my heart!”