South Africa crash: Damaged trailer may have caused fatal collision

Image source, ARochaInternational
Image caption,
Susanna Naylor and her husband Chris died in the crash

A crash that killed three people in South Africa may have been caused by a faulty trailer, an inquest has found.

Husband and wife Chris, 58, and Susanna Naylor, 54, died with friend Miranda Harris, 66, in the crash in Port Elizabeth on 28 October 2019.

An inquest into the couple's death at Oxford Coroner Court heard that their vehicle was towing a damaged trailer.

Coroner Darren Salter said the damage, as well as high winds, could have contributed to the crash.

Ms Harris's husband Peter, 57, and the driver, Thando Kalipa, survived.

Mr and Mrs Harris came from West Lavington, Wiltshire, while the Naylors lived near Shipton-Under-Wychwood, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

The Britons were in South Africa working for the Christian charity A Rocha International.

Image source, ARochaInternational
Image caption,
Miranda Harris and her husband Peter co-founded Christian charity A Rocha

The inquest heard all five were travelling in a Toyota Hilux which was towing a trailer.

The trailer overturned, causing the car to lose control and crash into a Chrysler it was passing on Swartkops Bridge.

While the Chrysler crashed into the side of the bridge, the Toyota went over the side and into the river.

Mr Salter said post mortem examinations found the couple's cause of death to be blunt force injury, and not drowning.

A statement from Mr Kalipa said his passengers alerted him to something happening behind the car before the collision.

He said he looked behind to see the "trailer was overturning because of the wind and suddenly the vehicle started to lose control".

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The vehicle went over the side of the Swartkops Bridge and into the river

Mr Harris, who spent time in hospital, could not remember anything about the crash, the court heard. His wife was cremated in South Africa and not repatriated.

Mr Salter read out details from the forensics team which said the trailer's right rear suspension attachment was completely worn out and may have failed "due to fatigue wear moments before the incident".

A crash analysis report also described the wind as "gusty" on the day, which was backed up by witness statements.

He concluded that there was "evidence of winds and gusts, and fatigue wear" and it was possibly a "combination of those things".

A conclusion of road traffic collision was recorded, accidental in nature.

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