Car flies 15m, then lands below bridge

Learner driver and his instructor suffer minor injuries in freak accident

LUCKY ESCAPE: A car plunged into a river near Pefferville Primary School in East London on Wednesday.
LUCKY ESCAPE: A car plunged into a river near Pefferville Primary School in East London on Wednesday.
Image: Lisekho Madikane

A late afternoon driving lesson took a turn for the worst when a learner driver mistakenly stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, sending the car “flying”.

The Mazda Sting hatchback, which reportedly “flew” for 15 metres, landed at the bottom of a bridge in Pefferville, East London. The 28-year-old learner driver Mlandeleli Tyutyani and his 70-year-old instructor and neighbour Mzwandile Ngamntwini sustained minor injuries in the crash.

The accident, which took place on the busy Douglas Smith Highway at about 2.45pm on Wednesday, drew dozens of curious onlookers.

Tyutyani, who sustained minor injuries to the upper body, was taken to an East London hospital for further examination by paramedics. He was given the all clear.

Tyutyani, who sustained minor injuries to the upper body, was taken to an East London hospital for further examination by paramedics. He was given the all clear.

A bruised Ngamntwini said the car belongs to Tyutyani’s father, who is his best friend and neighbour in Phumlani Village outside East London.

“His father asked me to teach his son how to drive and he showed interest and was slowly improving by each lesson. This was our third route lesson where I take him to drive during busy traffic hours in town.”

Ngamntwini said Tyutyani had done well on the congested Oxford Street.

“He drove well because we also went to Quigney and came here. I don’t know what went wrong,” said Ngamntwini.

He said that the drama unfolded he instructed Tyutyani to make a U-turn at Florence Street back onto the Douglas Smith Highway when the learner driver lost control of the vehicle.

“He selected the second gear as I instructed him but then went hard on the accelerator. I told him to ease a little and gently hit the brakes but he just continued pressing on the accelerator.”

Tyutyani said the car hit the roadside kerb, was launched in the air and remained airborne for 15 metres.

He said the car went over a small tree before landing at the bottom of the bridge.

A seven-year-old Grade 2 pupil at nearby Pefferville Primary said he witnessed the accident.

“We were leaving school and the car had just turned in front of us and went in an opposite direction in full speed.”

Buffalo City Metro spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said traffic officers said the car veered off the road and plunged down the ditch. He said traffic officers have handed the matter to the Duncan Village police for investigation.

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