What actually happened on Utrecht Street yesterday

It wasn’t long before news spread of a calamity on Utrecht Street yesterday.

Minutes after Captain Cheryl Venter of Vryheid SAPS had closed off the section of the street in front of New Republic School (NRS), social media was abuzz with speculation about what may have happened.

The presence of emergency personnel on Utrecht Street yesterday drew worried attention from passers-by.

Some motorists had observed the smashed car standing across the zebra crossing in front of the school and deduced that a collision had place.

Others noticed the lifeless form beneath the wreckage and agonised that a child must have been killed.

Anybody who has seen how chaotic Utrecht Street becomes at the start and the end of the school day, with children crossing the road, seemingly oblivious to the dangers presented by passing motorists, would agree… It could only have been a matter of time before disaster would strike and a life would be lost.

It is this eventuality that Captain Venter sought to prevent from happening when she planned the mock collision exercise that caught everybody’s attention in front of NRS yesterday.

Captain Cheryl Venter at Vryheid SAPS decided that road safety education was important to prevent a child from being run over.

KwaZulu Private Ambulance, JVS Towing and Protection Services officials were roped in to make pupils at NRS aware of the hazards on the road, showing them what happens in the event of a collision and encouraging road safety.

The demonstration began with paramedic, Frikkie Bekker, speaking to the pupils about the importance of using designated crossing areas when crossing the road and urging them to look carefully before crossing.

Frikkie Bekker began the road safety presentation at NRS.

A dummy placed under the wrecked car was used to depict a collision that could occur if a child had to run across the road without checking.

After the children had learned that they should dial 10111 to reach the police in the event of an emergency, they listened in anticipation for the arrival of the ambulance van.

NRS pupils listen in anticipation for the ambulance van.

Pieter Fourie from JVS Towing assisted with lifting the vehicle off the ‘victim’, and Tommy Reid and Mandla Buthelezi from KwaZulu Private Ambulance demonstrated how paramedics would go about rendering critical life support until the patient could be transported to the hospital.

Paramedics, Tommy Reid and Mandla Buthelezi, assist the ‘patient’ with the help of Pieter Fourie from JVS Towing.

Kumarin Naicker from Protection Services followed Mr Bekker’s presentation with advice on how to cross the road safely in traffic, and Captain Cheryl Venter, together with Constable Nkosinathi Xulu concluded the exercise with a friendly reminder that the rules for road safety extended to cyclists as well.

Kumarin Naicker from Protection Services explains the importance of looking carefully for traffic before crossing the road.

“Many children believe that they should ride their bicycles on the pavement, but the pavement is for pedestrians only. Cyclists are urged to use the side of the road instead,” advised Captain Venter.

Constable Nkosinathi Xulu concluded the exercise with a friendly reminder that the rules for road safety extended to cyclists as well.

“If we just save one child from being run over by a car in the future, I consider this a big score for us,” she concluded.

Estella Naicker

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