By Charl Pretorius
IN this letter to freeracer.co.za, Mark and Dorrie Sham of New Turf Carriers explain the events surrounding the carrier accidents which claimed the lives of three horses in the last week. After 13 years on the road without a major accident we were very unfortunate to have two accidents on 3 and 5 November 2007. In the first accident our truck, carrying runners returning from the Charity Mile, collided with a stationary, unlit vehicle that was parked half on the road and half off. Our driver attempted to miss the vehicle but the side of our truck hit the side of the other vehicle causing our cab to be ripped from the chassis.
Miraculously. both drivers were able to get out of the cab. Victor, the driver, has a broken his left foot and has broken toes on his right leg as well as a few cuts and bruises. He is currently recovering from an operation in hospital in Bethlehem.The co driver was badly bruised. The grooms were all taken to hospital in Bethlehem but were discharged on Sunday and are all home. The greatest loss suffered was by Alistair Gordon, the Jonssons and Mr Hamilton as their horse What A Question was killed on impact. The Big Ask (Mike Miller) and King James (Tracy Woolard) were both treated on scene by Dr. Chris Nel from Harrismith and brought back to our depot in Johannesurg in an extra truck . We also brought back What a Question, who is now buried on our property in Johannesburg. The other 2 horses were seen by Dr. Kobi Tadmore on Sunday and are both now happily back home with Mike Miller and Tracey Woolard. We cannot thank all the connections of these horses enough for their kind thoughts towards all of us at New Turf.
On Monday we had a truck on its way from Johannesburg to Durban with 11 horses from the Sale as well as two runners relocating to Natal.About. About 15kms after the Tugela toll the truck was pushed off the road by a gust of wind. Unfortunately at that point the road goes straight down an embankment.The driver, Joel, tried to get back onto the road but the trailer weight pulled the whole unit over and down the embankment onto its side, trapping the horses inside. Three horses escaped almost immediately and they were found standing a short way away from the truck. Two other horses also managed to escape and were held outside the trailer. Thank goodness just after the accident Heather Morkel and staff from Summerhill who were also returnning after the sale, arrived on the scene. Heather was able to help by identifying the horses that were injured or dead for us as we were miles away in Johannesburg. The local vets, Dr. Roger Turner from Ladysmith and Dr. Helen Tiffin and Dr. Dave Mullins were on scene as soon as they were called.To all of them as well as Tarryn Liebenberg our heartfelt thanks. Peter Choice of Choice Carriers, responded to our call for help by diverting one of his units to the scene immediately. Greatful thanks to both him and Grant Gillies for their prompt response. Also we need to thank Bennie and staff of Car Towing Services from Ladysmith as he dropped all work to get his recovery unit there as soon as he did to cut open the trailer and get the remaing horses out.
By some miracle off all 11 horses that survived only 3 had bad injuries. After the accident the 11 horses were taken to Summerhill Stud were they have been looked after diligently by the staff and Dr. Alan Bechard. Dr. Bechard has assured all that the horses should be back in work fairly soon. Thanks must also go to Mick Goss who offered his Summerhill Stud for the injured horses.
Mark, Michael and Matthew Sham flew to the accident site by hired helicopter as soon as they could where they met with Bennie of Car Towing Services. Bennie assured us that there were very high winds along that stretch of road on Monday and that it was a regular occurance on that notorious road for vehicles for to be pushed off by the wind. Our injured staff were all taken to hospital for treatment. Joel has a back injury while our groom Redgie dislocated his shoulder, our groom Wilson has broken ribs and a punctured lung. However they will all be home soon.
We would like to comment on the article published in freeracer,co.za and in Racing Express on 7 November: No horse was under the trailer at all. One horse was killed on impact and one was euthanased inside the trailer. Our driver, Joel Mutedi, has been driving horses for the last 9 years, 7 of those with New Turf Carriers. He is often especially requested by breeders and trainers to drive their yearling and racing loads to the sales and races. Once he has recovered from his injuries he will be returning to work for us as will both Redgie du Plessis and Wilson Ntuli.
Once again we cannot express our thanks and gratitude enough to all the owners and trainers of the horses involved for their support during this trying time. Being involved in the Racing Industry brings you into contact with all different types of people. We have been inundated with sms and phone messages of support and good wishes. To all off these loyal friends and clients our grateful thanks. We live by our motto, “Dealing With Friends” and as always assure our clients of our personal, best service in future. Mark and Dorrie Sham, New Turf Carriers.