Turnbull crash plot thickens
Mother believes he may have been a person of interest in a crash 20 years ago that killed two brothers
Details of a car crash 20 years ago that claimed the lives of two brothers, have resurfaced following the high-speed collision in which three people, including controversial East London man Andrew Turnbull, were killed this week.
While police investigations into Sunday’s crash are still under way, what is known is that Turnbull’s speeding Jaguar collided with a maroon Mercedes belonging to 87-year-old Kenton-on-Sea grandmother Beulah Booysen, killing her.
One eyewitness claims Turnbull, whose passenger, 19-year-old Ryan Byrne, had allegedly been filming Turnbull driving at 260km/h outside Port Alfred, had been dicing with an altogether different Mercedes in the lead-up to the crash.
Booysen and Byrne were both killed instantly, while Turnbull died from his injuries after being airlifted to a Port Elizabeth hospital.
Now, the mother of the Pratt brothers – Terence, 35, and Gordon, 32 – who were killed in a horrific head-on collision with an 18-wheeler truck at the Nanaga exchange near Port Elizabeth in March 1999, has claimed Turnbull was wanted for questioning by her lawyers about the events that led to the crash.
Having read media reports about Sunday’s collision, Lorna Pratt, a former graduate placement officer at the then University of Port Elizabeth, told the Dispatch that family members had instantly recognised Turnbull’s name.
At the time of the 1999 crash, police laid blame with a mystery white BMW with Gauteng number plates which forced the brothers to swerve into the truck’s path.
The driver of the BMW, police said, had been dicing with two other cars on the N2 freeway, but sped away from the scene of the crash.
The brothers had been enjoying a Sunday afternoon drive when the collision occurred.
Through people who knew Turnbull at the time, the Dispatch has established that he drove a white BMW in 1999.
When no answers were forthcoming from police about the white BMW, the Pratt family turned to lawyers, one of whom was Philip Shaw, of Pagdens Attorneys in Port Elizabeth, to track down any persons of interest.
The person their investigations led them to was Andrew Turnbull, she claimed.
Shaw died in 2011, but Pratt told the Daily Dispatch that Shaw had enlisted the services of other attorneys in East London and Cape Town to help in the search.
“Attorneys had contacted him [Turnbull] and made appointments to meet him, but he never ever turned up. They heard that he had moved to Cape Town and then tried again, but he never showed up for the appointment,” Pratt said.
Her only other child, Clive, died in 1990 when he was 19 years old.
A woman who knew Turnbull at the time, confirmed to the Dispatch that he owned a white BMW with GP number plates at the time, and was deeply suspicious that this was the same vehicle mentioned in reports of the Pratt crash.
Speaking on condition of strict anonymity, the woman said she had asked Turnbull outright whether the BMW was his.
“What he told me was that he had come across the scene of the accident, but he was not responsible for it. He actually told me he had used blankets from his own car to cover up the bodies,” she said.
“I found this strange, because the Pratts’ car was crushed. I have always had my suspicions.”
She said Turnbull had always driven “fancy” cars.
Joan Pratt, Gordon’s widow, also confirmed that Turnbull’s name was the only one ever linked to the white BMW investigators were looking for.
Pagdens director Rob Parker said he had a vague recollection of late partner Shaw assisting Lorna Pratt, but he could not recall any other details.
The Dispatch tracked down former police officer Herman Krantz, who was the station commander at Kinkelbos police station near Nanaga at the time of the brothers’ death 20 years ago.
Krantz recalled Lorna Pratt’s name but said police dealt with so many car crashes it was difficult to recall the precise details of each one. He said he would try to assist the Dispatch in providing additional information.
Gordon Pratt left Joan and a son, Skye, who was three at the time. Terence was unmarried.
Pratt said her children’s death had wreaked havoc on the family.
“Joan faced years of financial difficulty having to bring up Skye and educate him.
“It has not been easy for Skye having to live without a father and his life was made tougher to handle.”
Two decades on, Pratt’s own life has not become any easier.“A year or two after the accident, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkinson’s lymphoma which I had no doubt was caused by emotional stress. I was told that I had five months left to live.“After a year of dreadful treatment with chemo, the cancer was still there and I was told the only hope that I had was to try a new experimental type of treatment which was very dangerous.“It almost killed me, but I seemed to have the will to pull through it for Skye’s sake. I am now in heart failure due to damage to the heart from this chemo.”..