Media Release: KNP Vehicle Accident Claims Five
Kruger National Park (KNP) Managing Executive Dr Bandile Mkhize expressed his sincere condolences to the family and friends of the five Austrian tourists who were tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident in the park late yesterday afternoon (November 29, 2007).
“When we first heard about the accident, we were shocked and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends,” said Dr Mkhize.
It is believed that the accident which claimed the lives of the German and Austrian tourists – whose names cannot be made public until the next of kin have been notified – took place at around 16:45, while the party were driving between Phalaborwa Entrance Gate and Mopani Rest Camp.
A KNP official’s wife found the disorientated driver of the vehicle at the accident scene, a causeway across the Letaba River, and took him to the Nxanatseni South Regional Ranger’s office at the Phalaborwa Entrance Gate complex, arriving there at about 18:20.
KNP Rangers and emergency workers from Phalaborwa Disaster Management were alerted and rushed out to the scene as our regional ranger Mr Louis Olivier took the driver, an Austrian national, to Phalaborwa Hospital to be treated for shock and the minor injuries he sustained.
It is believed that the driver of the vehicle, a rented Land Rover 4x4 SUV (VBF 764 GP), “miscalculated” the approach to the causeway, overcorrected and hit the side of the bridge, flipping over and landing on its roof in the water below.
Even if the other occupants of the vehicle had survived the accident, they were unable to escape owing to the damages on the doors and windows and the fact that the airbags had inflated.
On questioning, the driver had no idea how he managed to escape.
In the light of this accident, Dr Mkhize commented further that visitors to the park must pay special attention when planning their journeys.
“We stress that visitors should always take the distances between our entrance gates and the various camps and the fact that there are speed limits of 50km/h on tar and 40km/h on gravel surfaces into consideration. The speed limits are not only in place for the safety of the wildlife, but also for their safety,” he commented.
South African National Parks (SANParks) senior officials have also made contact with the Austrian Embassy in Pretoria.
The German/Austrian party were booked into Mopani Rest Camp for three nights and were due to fly from OR Tambo International Airport to Cape Town on December 7, 2007.
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communications, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: email@example.com