Disasters in South Africa (In relation to water)

Picture by Derek Walker
Picture by Derek Walker | Source
Source

The Westdene bus accident

March 27, 1985, Johannesburg--- 42 teenagers drowned after the bus they were traveling in left the road while it was crossing the dam. A flimsy wire fence between the road and the water could not stop the bus from plunging into the dam. Within minutes only the roof of the bus was above water. Only 30 of the 72 children in the double-decker bus survived the accident.

The rescue operation consisted of extracting the teenagers through ventilation and broken windows with protruding shards of glass. Rescuers also searched for others in the silt and muddy water. Survivors were put on the top of the bus while others who were able swam approximately 20 ft. to safety. The survivors were transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance and helicopter while the deceased were taken to a mortuary.

Parents traveled between the accident scene, hospital and mortuary, frantically searching for their children. "I recognised his build under the sheet before he was shown to me," a distraught mother said.

On April 1 thirty-five of the teenangers were buried in the Heroes Acre of the Westpark Cemetery.

The bus itself was hauled out of the water six hours after the accident.

I knew most of those children personally. At the age of nine they were in my Sunday school class and for many years I enjoyed their company at Sunday school concerts and picnics. They lived all around me; I saw them regularly at church, school and in the shopping centre.

Retrospection and following events

Survivors of the accident recalled -

  • "...flying through the air..."
  • “...worrying about a suitcase filled with books...”
  • “...water rushing up the stairway...”
  • "…water came too quickly through the windows…”
  • “…couldn't kick out the window…"
  • “...children running screaming towards the back where older children were trying to kick out the emergency window...”
  • “...blacking out...”
  • Theo de Kooker: “My sister (Eurika) was black when I pulled her out of the bus. Something told me to pull her tongue forward, and the water rushed out of her."
  • Eurika, who was ten minutes in the water, experienced the following: “... a feeling of dying, as if going downwards towards a light, then pulled away from the light and not able to take my eyes off the light, then waking up, lying on the roof of the bus, realizing I should have died.”

There were rumours –

  • Some mischievous learners in the top deck tried to irritate the bus driver by swinging together from side to side, causing a situation the driver could not control.
  • The driver blacked out.
  • A tire blew out, sending the bus swerving into another vehicle before it smashed through a fence and plunged into the dam.

Looking back, many of the survivors recalled having a hunch that something bad is going to happen. One learner had a feeling that she will never see her mother again and wrote a letter, leaving it in her Bible before she went to school. During the school break at 11:00am learners who knew each other since grade one, but formed new friendships in high school, unexpectedly met and shared good memories, laughing, hugging and kissing. In the bus most of the learners were quiet, gazing through the windows, while they were normally loud and noisy.

A stronger barrier was erected after the accident -

The positive

It was an opportunity to recognise true heroes. Siblings, peers, local residents and teachers risked their lives to save lives.

One learner, Pieter Koen (17), rescued five of his peers including his cousin, but did not return from his sixth dive.

Awards for bravery were given to the following children for rescuing their schoolmates: Willem van Aswegen, Theo de Kooker, Coenraad Viljoen, John Gordon, Martin van Lelyveld, Petrus van Heerden, Matthys Wehmeyer, Daniel du Toit, Gerhard Waldeck, Rudi Opperman, Reinette van Deventer and Pieter Koen (posthumously).

In South Africa heroes are rewarded with the Dirkie Uys and Wolraad Woltemade awards for bravery. (I will tell their stories in following hubs.)

Survivors, and all who were emotionally involved, lived on, sensitive to others going through loss, and thankful for the opportunity to be alive.

Authorities took another look at the road-worthiness of busses and the safety barriers of dangerous roads.

Public safety departments, such as fire brigades, ambulance services and hospitals and mortuaries once again realize that they should always be prepared for the worst.

The bus driver, Willem Horne

Horne survived the disaster, but was kept under police guard at the hospital, for he was threatened by angry, grieving white parents who believed the accident was racially motivated. After being released from the hospital Horne was indeed attack in his home by three white men and left for dead with a large slash in his neck.

He was a forty-one-year old coloured man (with black and white ancestors) and the father of five children, aged between 10 and 18. He was described as "a hard-working family man", and not capable of deliberately driving the bus into the dam. His regular passengers regarded him as an excellent and conscientious driver. A week before the accident he stressed how relieved he was for not having any accidents yet.

The schoolchildren were on good terms with him. He was always friendly. On the specific day he was driving the bus faster than normal, but he was not breaking the speed limit.

It was in the time of Apartheid. Blacks in South Africa were in revolt, rioting, boycotting and staying away from work. They were brutally forced by the Government to obey Apartheid’s laws. Fearful whites were emigrating. Racial tensions were high.

Horne was charge with culpable homicide. His case was finally heard in March 1986. He could not remember the details of the accident. A psychologist labelled his condition as "retrograde amnesia", and his ‘black outs’, which were proposed as the cause of the accident, where imputed to an injury he suffered three years before the accident, when he had been assaulted by four men. (Assaults were the order of the day in coloured communities). Judge Johann Kriegler declared Horne not guilty and "an honourable man".

Horne’s words after the trial: “My family and I have been very distressed at this tragedy. I pray to God to give us the strength and to give the families of the children the strength to overcome the disaster. I express my deep condolence to the families. I want to thank all the people that stood by me and gave me message of support, and I also thank my employers for my job."

Shortly after the court case one of Horne’s own children was killed in a hit and run accident.


Saulspoortdam
Saulspoortdam
Boeing Combi
Boeing Combi

Similar accidents in South Africa

  • On 2 May 2003 fifty-one municipal workers were killed on their way from Kimberley to Phuthaditshaba to attend a May Day rally. They were Cosatu-affiliated trade unionists. "… always available to fight for the rights of those who can’t fight for themselves,” was said about them. Only ten people - nine men and one woman - survived this accident. The driver, who did not survive, apparently took a wrong turn and plunged down a steep dirt road into the dam.
  • In the mid-1990’s a bus carrying some 90 forestry workers to work plunged into a dam near Lothair, Mpumalanga, claiming 38 lives.
  • The Helderberg plane disaster is another water-related tragedy in the history of South-Africa. Extract from the Scorpions preliminary report dated 21 May 2001 to the Minister of Transport stressed the following: “…On 28 November 1987 at approximately 00:07:00 a South African Airways Boeing 747-244B Combi crashed into the Indian ocean 134 nautical miles north-east of the Plaisance Airport of Mauritius. There were 140 passengers and 19 crew aboard. Nobody survived. The finding of the Board of Inquiry was that "the accident allowed an uncontrolled fire in the forward right pallet on the main deck cargo compartment. The aircraft crashed into the sea at high speed following a loss of control consequent on the fire…”
  • Heavy rains often cause floods which damage and destroy agriculture, bridges, and roads, all kinds of structures, homes, business properties and vehicles. During these disasters many people drown, or get stranded and displaced.
  • Embankment failures and dam wall breaches following heavy rain caused the death of many people in the past. Mudslides often intensify these kind of disasters.

 

Drowning

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drowning

Drowning is death from asphyxia due to suffocation caused by a liquid entering the lungs and preventing the absorption of oxygen. Asphyxia is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from being unable to breathe normally.

 

A continued lack of oxygen in the brain will quickly render a victim unconscious. An unconscious victim rescued with an airway still sealed from laryngospasm stands a good chance of a full recovery. Artificial respiration is also much more effective without water in the lungs. At this point the victim stands a good chance of recovery if attended to within minutes. Latent hypoxia is a special condition leading to unconsciousness where the partial pressure of oxygen in the lungs under pressure at the bottom of a deep free-dive is adequate to support consciousness but drops below the blackout threshold as the water pressure decreases on the ascent, usually close to the surface as the pressure approaches normal atmospheric pressure. A blackout on ascent like this is called a deep water blackout.

 

Drowning is most often quick and unspectacular. Its media depictions as a loud, violent struggle have much more in common with distressed non-swimmers, a condition that may precede drowning. An aspyhxicating person seldom calls for help.

A lack of oxygen or chemical changes in the lungs may cause the heart to stop beating; this cardiac arrest stops the flow of blood and thus stops the transport of oxygen to the brain. Cardiac arrest used to be the traditional point of death but at this point there is still a chance of recovery. The brain will die after approximately six minutes without oxygen but special conditions may prolong this.

 

Mammalian Dive Reflex

Drowning suffocation causes a lack of oxygen, resulting in death in only a few minutes. An exception to this rule appears in victims who have been suddenly and rapidly submerged into ice-cold water (<32F, 0C). Some of these people have survived up to an hour underwater without any resultant physical damage. This phenomenon is known as the mammalian dive reflex, which is activated when the face and body plunge into ice-cold water, resulting in the slowing of body metabolism as well as diverting blood only to the heart, lungs, and brain. If someone gradually becomes hypothermic (gradual lowering of body temperature), this reflex does not apply.

 

 

Where was God?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8- There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Romans 8:28- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Quotes regarding disasters

  • When a big disaster happens, it heightens the philanthropic impulse – (Daniel Borochoff)
  • He who sees the calamity of other people finds his own calaminy light - (Arabian Proverb quote)
  • In the past, people worked together only when some great disaster threatened -
    (Walter Ulbricht)
  • Many a happiness in life, as many a disaster, can be due to chance, but the peace within us can never be governed by chance - (Maurice Maeterlinck)
  • Only after disaster can we be resurrected – (Chuck Palahniuk)
  • Living things have been doing just that for a long, long time: Through every kind of disaster and setback and catastrophe we are survivors – (Robert Fulghum)
  • Disaster can strike anyone at any time. I could be me tonight – (Amy Gabriel)
  • It is clear that disaster has changed this country – (Brian Williams)
  • Natural disasters bring out the best in people – (Chris Swecker)

 

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Comments 32 comments

Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 6 years ago from california

Such a tragic incident. Thanks for sharing this one... even though you brought tears to my eyes first thing in the morning!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

You brought this story to us in such a way, that we could feel the anger and pain.So tragic. Prejudice is like a cancer, it grows until a cure is found. Thank you for this very sad story.

Love and Peace


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Deni Edwards – This one was quite difficult to write! It is always difficult to share emotional trauma. It would have been a little easier if I did not know those children. I passed that dam daily while we were living there for 10 years. Besides the bus, many cars and trucks plunged into that dam at the other side, where it is at the end of a long, sharp incline. Thanks for leaving a comment.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

always exploring – I guess this is the purpose of events like this – to force us to review our prejudices. Thanks for your support!


equealla profile image

equealla 6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

Martie, I remember, we all remember. It was a very sad day for S.A. It always makes such a bigger impact when it is children.

It is so much more painful if you knew the people involved, and unimaginably heartbreaking for the parents and relatives.

Your closure on this article is so well done. Explanations and reasoning will be there, but you have added a soft touch to the reality of the fact of dying and situations of distress.

I have also drowned once, and wrote a hub about it. Your addition gives explanation to this experience. A very well written hub. Thank you for being so brave to share it, as you were so closely involved.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

equealla – Thank you so much for this nice report. You are really boosting my self-confidence. I can’t believe I’ve ‘grown’ so quickly into this. I remember how lost I felt 2 months ago, publishing only those ‘Dear Angela’s’, and considering only short stories – my forte. Of course, I was paralyzed by the fear for failure and rejection. Yes, that Westdene tragedy! Recalling the history of Triomf (Saphire Town), the ridiculous thought crossed my mind - Exodus 20:5 – The sins of the fathers.... I am curiously on my way to read your hub.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

MartieC, what a horrible horrible story. These are moments when I feel so far away from you; I did not know about this. In my 1985 hub that speaks of this year, I didn't mention this tragedy. It was the year of our marriage and I was busy planning. There were so many natural disasters in the headlines... The sins of the fathers, eh? You raise the question, Where was God, but you don't answer it. Where IS God in these matters? How did God work this into something good? I am not sure. How did you manage to teach this Sunday school class? Thinking of such a sad moment in your life- your friend, Story.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Storytellersrus – I guess the world was not as small in 1985 as it is now. For me America, for example, was another WORLD, never-mind another country. Thanks to internet, America is now merely another suburb or a city only 15 hours away from me. And you are one of my dearest friends! (Go check my hub ‘My favorite hubbers’.)

Our church (Dutch Reformed [Protestants]) have Sunday schools – Bible study for children from age 6-17. One hour before the Sunday service or directly after the service. At the age of 16 learners ‘graduate’. We follow syllabuses in order to teach according to a child’s comprehension. Final years (aged 16-17) study ‘dogma’ (Luther and Calvyn.) I was teacher - the correct word is actually catechist - for 16 years. I had the Grade 2’s - aged 9-10 – most of the time, for it was my favorite sillabus: All the ‘stars’ in the Old Testimony. Adam, Abel... Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses.... and then ending with Jesus. But later I took the Gr9’s, doing Paul and his missionaries. Truly enjoyed this! Perhaps I’ll do it again... when my eldest granddaughter enrolls – next year. Anyway, many of those children in the bus were ‘mine’ while they were 9 yrs old, and after that I still saw them every Sunday. Saw them grow... had a lot of fun with them...

Thanks for your lively interest, Story.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Story, I just realized that I did not answer your last question. Where is God in these matters? After many years of struggling with God in regards with this same question, going for almost twenty years from Christian to Atheist to Agnostic and eventually back to Christian - I now have a new perception, vision, interpretation of God. He is nobody’s bodyguard, or curer of illnesses, or savior from physical death. He is not even a he, or a she, or a it. But ‘he’ is ‘there’ and ‘everywhere’ and in us, a Force/Power of Goodness, mightier than bad and evil or anything earth-bounded. In some people you’ll see a glimpse of him, or rather of his goodness. I can go on and on.... That is why I have posted Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – That is life on earth: there is a time for everything. We can choose to accept those facts and use God’s power and be his presentatives on Earth, being actively pro-Good and anti-Bad, or we can ignore that and just go on being our selfish selves, caring only for ourselves, loving only ourselves. This is my idea now, or part of it, and therefore I don’t torture myself anymore with religious expectations, concepts and explanations. Good is God and Bad is Satin: that is all we actually need to know in order to live either as good people or as bad people. The choice is ours. (We will never understand how the cookie crumbles.) This is but only my personal view on this. And let me tell you, it took many years (in agony) for me to get this, and I am quite possessive of it, I will not put it in the forums where it will surely get stoned beyond recognition. Love u!


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

MartieC, I do try to return to the site of comments I have made to find out what has been said back at me, but I had not gotten here today. My eldest has been visiting and leaves today. I am pretending all is normal by reading my hubs but in fact I am trying to remember that there is other life outside my misery of impending empty nest syndrome. I will have my son on the West Coast- a 24 hour drive at high speed- one daughter in New York City- a 27 hour drive at high speeds- and my youngest in Cambridge- 30 hours away by car. So I am sad. Very sad!

I appreciate your thorough response to my questions. I taught the 12-13 year olds at my Episcopal Church and explored the Aramaic Jesus, including the Aramaic Lord's Prayer. I loved it. I guess I have taught Sunday school for four or five years in the Lutheran Church, for one year in the Unitarian Universalist Church, and for three years in the Episcopal Church. Happily, none of my kids had such pressing life experience. Although two of them were children of abuse, which brought up challenging conversations in early adolescence- and sensitivity, too.

I ask about your opinion of good and bad because I really wonder. It is not to test you or anything. I have questions about this at times, when I read of children's disasters, in particular. You have probably heard of Columbine, the shooting of 13 in a Colorado school back in 1999? These disasters bring me to this type of question more than any other, including 9-11.

There was a train/bus collision in Colorado years ago with similar stories and loss of life as your sad disaster, although the racial issue did not come up. Twenty children died. I can't imagine it.

I tend to believe that we chose to attend Earth School and some of the lessons are just plain hard. I wonder what lessons I was meant to learn, because I don't think I am doing a very good job at it.

Hugs MartiC. Your deep thoughts make me think and your ability to not flinch when it comes to hub topics also inspires me. Thanks.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Storytellersrus – You will not believe me, but I’ve sense something is bothering you. I almost wrote this in my previous comment to you. This was what I wrote, but then I cut it out again – “... though the past few days... perhaps more.... I’ve sense you are disheartened, or perhaps your attention is on other important matters. I can sense your moods in your writings...”

So your children are going to be far away from you. Quite a fear-provoking fact for you to come to terms with. Another hub for me to write! It took me three years to finally realise my son is not ‘my son’ anymore, but an adult with the right to commit his own successes and failures.

Nice to know you were also into Sunday school and Bible study. Yes, some of the lessons we have to learn are really hard, and there is a time in our life that we believe we are not doing well. But eventually you’ll realise that everything had to happen just the way it happened... You’ll see. Thanks to Internet, Scype, mobile phones, you’ll stay in connection with your children. Believe me, you are on the threshold of a wonderful phase of your life. So I'll send you some hugs just to keep you balanced until you are ready for the entering.


HOOWANTSTONO profile image

HOOWANTSTONO 6 years ago

MartieCoetser

It brings back memories on this HUB, you put a lot of effort into it, well done.

God speed


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

HOOWANTSTONO – Nice to meet you. I hope your memories were not as upsetting as mine. Thanks for the comment.


HOOWANTSTONO profile image

HOOWANTSTONO 6 years ago

No they were not, but It was that weird transition period of time, where everything was bleek


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Another great hub from you, Martie. It good to remind us how the bad this disaster. At least we can learn a little about this topic. We more care with the nature and the earth. Thank you very much. Good work, my friend. ~prasetio


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

@ HOOWANTSTONO – To be honest, sir, I think we are still in ‘that’ time. But I’m always reminding myself of Peter who sank when he became afraid of the stormy water he was trying to walk on.

@ prasetio30 – I’m so glad you think so, prasetio. I hope to be soon just as good as you.


masmasika 6 years ago

Oh my God! This is such a tragic story. It is very early in the morning and the very first thing I read is this very touching hub of yours. I'm sure those children are with God because they are just kids. This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

masmasika – Oh, I can imagine the shock you had, for you have such a soft, motherly heart – I’ve noticed that in your hubs. Yes, this is a natural tendency of (normal) people and animals – we don’t want anything bad to happen to children. The adults have to fight their own battles, but the children need protection. Thanks for coming by. I truly appreciate your visits.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Wow, Martie - I don't know how I missed this one from you! I was a parishioner of a church near Westdene Dam at the time and one of the young people in our church used to catch that bus home every day, but on that day he had to stay later at school to see one of his teachers. Otherwise he would have been on that bus!

That accident was so traumatic for everyone involved. It has left scars to this day.

Thanks for sharing this intersting Hub.

Love and peace

Tony

PS You could now add the Witbank dam accident!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

tonymac04 – I’m glad you’ve found this one.... rather late than never :)))) But look who’s talking – there are many hubs of yours still to be read by me. I’m going to do exactly this during the coming holiday. So we were almost neighbors in Johannesburg? Or were you merely a parishioner of one of the churches in that area?

Even if I did not know one of those children, that unfortunate and traumatic accident would have shocked me tremendously. Thanks for the tip about the Witbank accident. I will soon add it – perhaps in a separate hub? I’ll sleep on this.

Have a good night rest, my friend. We are facing the last month of this year!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Very hard story Martie. Thank you for telling this one. These hurt to tell. God bless!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Micky Dee – Merely to remember it hurts. God bless... and I thank Him for the opportunity to have you as a virtual friend.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

I lived in Greymont and was a parishioner of the Catholic Church in Martindale, St Francis Xavier.

Love and peace

Tony


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa Author

tonymac - thanks for coming back... So we probably saw each other before in shopping centres without realizing we will meet each other one day in the then-still-unknown-world, HubPages :)) Geniet die naweek, my vriend. Dis lekker om jou te ken. Hugs from me to you.


Glenda Pretorius 5 years ago

Martie, I was in Matric in Vorentoe in 1985. I will never forget the raw emotion associated with the accident. It left its mark on all of us and every year at the time of the anniversary one cannot help becoming melancholy. I, too, lost many friends and classmates but at least once a year I allow myself to think of them. I always do a quick calculation of how old the youngest and oldest of the kids would be now.

one of the victims, Elsa v Heerden used to irritate the socks off me and for what reason I cannot recall now. I think of her quite often for the following reason:-

We used to catch the same bus in the mornings. The bus would pick me up from the stop in front of my house. We had a very friendly driver and on that specific morning when i got onto the bus, the driver had a yellow rose on his coin dispenser. i still joked with him and asked him if the rose was for me. He replied that it was for Elsa but that he would bring me one the following day. The afternoon, after the bell rang, I was walking down to the bus stop and Elsa was walking in front of me. She was singing at the top of her voice while swinging the yellow rose in circles. i clearly rememer thinking how childish i though she was. Elsa died soon after and my biggest regret has been that I did not go to her mother after the accident and tell her how happy her daughter was in the half an hour or so before she died. I believe her mother passed away a number of years ago but I belive that this knowledge may have meant something to her.

Glenda


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Glenda Pretorius – Hi, my liewe mede-Suid-Afrikaner! This comment of yours says so much about so many issues in life. It is an awful fact: One moment we can experience another person either negatively or positively, and the next moment that person may die, leaving us with a memory that will be with us until the day we too die. Eventually we realize that our happiness and particularly our peace of mind do not depend on anybody else, but only on ourselves and our own thoughts and actions.

The Westdene Bus Accident was a horrible traumatic event, especially for all learners of High School Vorentoe and much worse for all of you who traveled that road daily by bus. I/we will never forget that terrible day. I can still remember the shock that went through me when I heard the news.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting on this hub I’ve written with sadness in me, bursting with empathy for all the loved-ones, families and friends and even acquaintances of all those young ones who’ve lost their lives. Glenda, ek wens jou net die beste toe vir vandag, môre en vorentoe.


elnavann profile image

elnavann 5 years ago from South Africa

Marthie

I was a bus driver in Pretoria during the time of this accident (one of the first woman bus drivers!). This accident had a major effect on me - I imagined how devastating it would be to be responsible for so many deaths.

I have just joined HubPages but wrote some stories on my experience as bus driver on the Triond website


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa Author

elnavann – Its so nice to meet you! You must have a lot of interesting stories to share with us. I’ll catch up with your hubs when my holiday is over. Welcome to HubPages!


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

These poor little children! I felt sorry for the bus driver who certainly meant no harm to anyone. What a burden he must have felt.

I almost drowned once and I still can remember the feeling.

Thanks for sharing this story. Vote UP, etc.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Mary, drowning must be the most horrible experience! I don't even want to allow myself pondering too much about it - although this is what writers are supposed to do especially when they write fiction, creating 'living' characters coping with 'real' trauma and challenges. I am glad to know that you have survived such a trauma. Also the hell the bus driver had to face - and probably still do - is (for me) a horror to contemplate. Thanks for reading and commenting :)


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 20 months ago from Texas

How tragic. It makes me think of so many ttragedies I know of that involve children. As a mother, I can't even imagine the fear and panic and, of course, heartbreak that these families endured.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 20 months ago from South Africa Author

Shanmarie, trying to imagine all the emotions a person has to handle during and after this kind of disaster, makes me physically ill. It is a fact that those who are compelled to handle it, also receive the power to do so. And then they become role models, pillars of strength and people who have insight and wisdom that pass all comprehension :) I take my hat off for those who have survived - and are still surviving - a disaster like this.

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