When the de Jonge Family drove to Sedgefield from George on Sunday, there is no way they could have expected the day to go so horribly wrong. This thanks to an Australian Gum Tree and an unfortunately positioned car.
Abraham ‘Koosie’ de Jonge (36) had brought his wife and three daughters (twin girls of 11 and a 14 year old elder sister) to the well known picnic spot on The Island, (where President Steyn and Charles te Water Streets meet), so that they could spend the day together, fishing, braa-ing and generally relaxing.
As visiting motorists have been doing for years, they parked their vehicle in the shade of the tall Gum trees and wandered down to the water’s edge. All was well until they heard a strangely loud cracking noise somewhere behind them.
“I had one of those feelings that something was wrong,” Koosie told us later, “So I said to my wife ‘Let me just go and have a look,’ and I went up to check.”
He couldn’t believe what he found. Their family car, an old VW Jetta 2, was crushed almost flat into a barely recognisable metal wreck, with what looked like an entire tree lying on top of it.
It appears that one of the two huge stems growing from the base of this old Gum had been rotting inside for some time, and had chosen that afternoon to give up the ghost and topple over. Right onto their car.
Other picnickers, whose vehicles had been spared, came to his assistance in calling for the necessary help. One of Sedgefield Towing Services’ crew was nearby, as were some off duty municipal workers, and they quickly sourced a chainsaw. Once enough of the thick branches had been cut away to release the wrecked car, it was transported to the de Jonge home in George.
Koosie is exceptionally relieved that none of his family was in, or even near, the vehicle when this happened, as serious injury or even fatalities would definitely have resulted. But in this sad stroke of fate, the de Jonges have lost their only vehicle.
“We are quite stranded. When the holidays are over I will need to take the kids to school somehow, and with one of my daughters being asthmatic we live with the fear that she may have to be rushed to hospital at any time.”
Koosie hopes that as the tree was on public land, local government will have insurance to cover his loss so that he will be mobile again sooner rather than later.
When asked for comment municipal spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhoudt said “The vehicle owner has made contact with the Municipality’s Insurance section and was advised regarding documentation that he needs to submit. As soon as the documents are received the Department will submit them to our insurers, and once the process has been completed, the owner will be advised as to the outcome of the claim.”
Meanwhile, the Parks and Recreation Department is currently in the process of appointing a service provider to remove and trim trees in the area to minimize the risk of more trees and branches falling.