Divers on Sunday recovered the body of a man whose sport utility vehicle (SUV) was swept off a low crossing bridge into the swollen Hartebees Spruit near Hangelaar and Seekoei Road in the Roodeplaat area.
A team of divers and rescue technicians from the Tshwane Emergency Services Department (ESD), Gauteng Emergency Medical Services, South African Police Service, and a towing service recovered the man’s body and his SUV from the deep water.
Emergency services said they had been alerted around midnight that a light motor vehicle was swept off a low crossing bridge with victims possibly trapped inside.
“Emergency response teams were immediately dispatched to the area, whereupon arrival at the incident, what seemed like a motor vehicle was noticed submerged from the water, about a km away from where the vehicle was last seen,” recounted the ESD.
“Emergency teams could not enter the water to carry out a search because of the high level and speed of the water as well as poor visibility because of the time of the night and the rainfall. The search was suspended and resumed just before 06:00 this morning.
“A ‘croc’ boat and divers launched into the spruit, and the body of a man estimated to be in his fifties was recovered from inside the vehicle, which was mostly still intact,” said the ESD.
“The team used winches from service 4×4 vehicles and a towing vehicle to recover the SUV from the spruit.”
The ESD warned motorists to avoid low-lying bridges during floods as the wet weather was expected to continue for the next few days.
“If trapped in a vehicle during a flood, abandon the vehicle and climb to high ground. Do not drive on a road if it is completely covered by water and you cannot see the road surface – you do not know how deep it is or if the road is washed away,” said the ESD.
“Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognise flood dangers. Avoid low spots, like ditches, basements, or underpasses as these become extremely dangerous during a flash flood.”
The ESD said its teams “remain on high alert” and will continually monitor low-water bridges and other known flooding hotspots.
“To enable emergency response and coordination of other response measures during storms or any life-threatening emergency, dial 107 toll-free from a landline or cellphone,” said the department.