KwaZulu-Natal woman rescued after being swept into a river

A Pietermaritzburg man rescued a woman from drowning after her vehicle was swept off a low-level bridge on Grimthorpe Road, Hayfields, on Friday afternoon.

Paul Henman, who witnessed the incident, said he was taking his son, Jason, on a driving lesson on their usual route down Grimthorpe Road at the time.

He said that when they got to get to the low-level bridge, it was unpassable as water was overflowing.

Henman said they then parked the vehicle before the bridge and he attempted to reverse when he saw a woman drive past them. She tried to cross the bridge.

He said when she was in the middle of the bridge, the vehicle was washed away by the water.

“As soon as the four wheels were underwater, the car was washed away. At the time there was no one around beside us. The car then went about 200 metres down the river and Jason, and I ran beside the river screaming for help. The car then probably hit a rock and it stopped,” he said.

They immediately called the emergency team for assistance.

Henman said he realised that the woman was trapped, and it would take time for emergency teams to arrive, so he decided to swim and rescue the woman.

He said he then jumped into the river and was able to open the car door. He then pulled her out and swam to the riverbank.

“The woman was a non-swimmer so I had to assist her out. At the time she was screaming about her car, but I told her to forget about the car, her life was more important.

“Luckily, the car was not rolling in the river, it was just floating over the river. At the time, my son was in the car, directing the rescue service. Had we not been there 30 seconds earlier, she was not going to survive,” he said.

He said the police and other emergency teams attended to the woman who was hysterical about losing her car because she bought it last month.