He cannot blame the driver of the truck that killed his daughter for the accident, and would like to tell him that.
That was the reaction of Deon Swart, father of Carla Swart, South Africa’s top women’s cyclist, following the death of his daughter under tragic circumstances on the Marquard road in the Free State.
“From the information at my disposal, it appears as if the driver did everything in his ability to try and avoid the accident,” Swart said from Atlanta in the United States.
“I think Carla may well have made an error of judgement as she is more used to the American roads where the cars drive on the right-hand side.”
The accident occurred while Carla was doing time-trial training.
Cycling South Africa team manager Barry Austin said that he had seen her cycling computer falling off.
“I immediately stopped my car to go and pick it up. When I got out, a truck drove past me. Carla looked over her left shoulder while riding. When she saw that I had already stopped, she swung out to the right and ended up in front of the truck.
“I could see the driver of the truck hitting the brakes. He even swung out to the right in an effort to avoid hitting Carla, but it was in vain.”
Austin said that Carla was still breathing when he got to her, but she was covered in blood. He rushed to hospital with her.
“The doctor told me that she was already dead when I got there.”
Deon Swart could not hold back the tears while discussing his daughter’s passion for cycling.
He said that she lived for cycling. Her passion for the sport was so great that she even broke off her engagement to be able to live her passion for the sport.
Swart’s death has been described as a dark day for South African and even international cycling.
She would almost certainly have represented South Africa at next year’s Olympic Games in London. Experts had predicted that she would have been able to secure a medal for South Africa.
Last year she was responsible for a number of firsts in South African cycling. She finished 10th at the Road Cycling World Championship in Australia and eighth at the Commonwealth Games. She also finished 10th in a World Cup race.
This year she was due to ride for the American Team HTC – Highroad, which is the top women’s team in the world.
Tributes from all over the world poured in on Facebook on Wednesday.
Team HTC – Highroad wrote on its website: “Carla, in such a short time you became part of our family and touched us all with your vibrant personality and your constant smile. You infected us with your zest for life and we will forever have you in our hearts.”
Cherise Taylor (USN) and Lynette Burger (Biogen) – South African team-mates of Swart – described her as an incredible person.
“Carla was always so cheerful, except when she was cycling,” said Burger.
“It was almost as if she had a second personality. She was an intense person on a bicycle, but very friendly the moment she got off it.”
Taylor said that Swart was fearless. “She would not hesitate to ride over pavements in international races if she felt that it would help her get to the front.”
[Wilhelm De Swardt, Beeld]