WATCH: Tragedy averted in Paddadam crash

Ryno Opperman and Pieter Fourie both braved the cold, murky waters to retrieve the submerged Mercedes A180 from the deepest part of the Paddadam.

Saturday night’s crash at the Paddadam brought together members of the community and Vryheid Neighbourhood Watch in a rescue operation that unfolded in dark and icy conditions.

Read the full story in this week’s Vryheid Herald.

Both occupants of the vehicle survived the crash, narrowly avoiding a fate much worse, when the car they were traveling in landed in the deepest part of the dam.

Jayden Wilson, his mother, Charmaine Wilson and his aunt, Zelda de Beer, were first at the scene and alerted Neighbourhood Watch. They remained at the scene until after it was apparent that the occupants of the vehicle were safe.

“We can’t even describe the sound we heard coming from inside the vehicle,” recalled the two women, who had sent Jayden back to the house to fetch a torch. They recalled that time seemed to stand still as they heard the panicked sounds of the two occupants of the submerged Mercedes Benz A180, struggling to break free from the vehicle, as Jayden returned with the torch.

Ryno Opperman and Pieter Fourie secure the submerged Mercedes to the towing cable. The tree in the foreground of the shot gives an indication as to how far the car was launched into the Paddadam.

Doug Grewar was at the scene watching from the banks of the dam as the car was retrieved. “So sorry, Doug. It is a neverending story…” wrote Norma Vince on social media regarding the incident.

Members of Vryheid Neighbourhood Watch, Sakkie van Greuning, Chairman Andrè Rheder, Patrol Commander Imtiaz Sahib and Chris Marais (facing away from the camera).

Pieter Fourie was one of the brave men who jumped into the icy water at the Paddadam to retrieve the submerged vehicle. He walks away from the water as the car is pulled onto the banks of the dam.Saturday night’s chilly conditions were no match for JVS Towing’s dedicated staff, who subsequently climbed into the icy water to begin the recovery of the vehicle, which is believed to have landed in the deepest area of the Paddadam.

Pieter Fourie and Ryno Opperman swam out to the vehicle to attach the towing cable as Chris Marais handled the operation from the banks of the dam.

Ryno Opperman was one of the men who recovered the Mercedes from the Paddadam.

At night, the poorly lit Paddadam Park is remarkably dark, so several Neighbourhood Watch vehicles illuminated the scene for the next few hours while the recovery took place and the waterlogged Mercedes was eventually retrieved from the murky depths of the Paddadam.

“This is excellent work from the part of Neighbourhood Watch,” stated AbaQulusi Mayor, Martin Mtshali, upon hearing of the incident and the response from the members. “They deserve credit.”

The front of the Mercedes was destroyed in the crash.

The driver of the vehicle, who will be covering the cost of repairing the gate that was destroyed in the incident, would like to extend her thanks to everyone for their help and support, from the members of the community who offered assistance, to the brave men and women from Vryheid Neighbourhood Watch and JVS Towing.

“Thank you,” she conveys. “Thank you to everyone, from the bottom of my heart.”

The gate at the entrance to the Paddadam was destroyed in the crash.


Two of the large and heavy rocks that were embedded in the soil to stop motorists from driving into the play area of the park, were ripped from the ground and launched into the dam and a third one shifted from its position.



Elaine Rodway

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