Durban – Paramedic Sivan Subramodey lay beside a badly injured Pragasen Govender on Higginson Highway.
Govender was trapped under the wheels of his vehicle.
He was semi-conscious. In pain. Subramodey knew he would die unless advanced help support arrived quickly.
Subramodey radioed for help and a team from Rescue Care responded.
Then word got out that the ambulance was delayed – stuck at a roadblock by metro police who refused to let it through until the driver of the vehicle had undergone a breathalyser test.
The 25-minute delay was too long for Govender.
He died on that road with his head on Subramodey’s shoulder.
Govender, 34, was a mechanic. He lived in Malvern, and on Sunday evening he attended his 2-year-old niece’s birthday party in Unit 7, Chatsworth.
On his way home, at about 7.30pm, Govender was involved in a crash with three cars, near the Westcliff turn-off.
It is believed Govender was flung out of the vehicle, which landed on top of him.
Subramodey owns Amawele Emergency Services and has been a paramedic for the past two years.
“My team and I arrived at the scene shortly after the accident. It was a horrific sight. We treated six people for minor injuries.
“The seventh person, Pragasen, was trapped under two vehicles.”
A fellow paramedic, Lukcanis Padayachee, and a team from Chatsworth Towing South Africa, managed to lift Pragasen’s vehicle slightly, allowing Subramodey to crawl underneath.
“I lay next to Pragasen on the road and, using a torch, I assessed the situation. The tyres from both vehicles were on top of his legs. He was trapped and could not move.”
Realising his injuries were severe, Subramodey’s team called in an advanced life support team from Rescue Care.
“I let Pragasen rest his head on my shoulder. He was semi-conscious and in pain. He pleaded with me to save him. I told him to hold on.”
As the minutes ticked by, Subramodey was informed the ambulance was stuck in a roadblock 3km away.
“The officers from metro police refused to allow them to come through the roadblock despite the sirens and the lights on the ambulance showing red, which meant they were headed to an emergency.”
Paramedic Ceron Meadows said despite telling the officers she was needed urgently at an accident, she was ignored.
“They refused to let me pass. The officers wanted me to take a breathalyser test. When I got to the front of the roadblock, I sped off.”
By the time they arrived Govender had died.
“I was in complete shock and I was angry because if it had not been for the metro police we could have possibly saved his life,” said Subramodey.
“I have had sleepless nights since this accident. Those police at the roadblock had no right preventing us from doing our jobs, more especially when we are trying to save lives.
“What they did was an inhumane act and we want answers.”
Subramodey has launched a complaint with metro police.
Spokesperson for Durban Metro Police Parboo Sewpersadh denied the allegations.
“We did not stop the drivers of the emergency vehicles for breathalyser tests. We opened the road for them to pass as quickly as possible. We had about five vehicles go past.”
Govender, who would have celebrated his birthday in two weeks, is survived by his 73-year-old father and two brothers.
His sister-in-law, Twinkle, said his death had left a void in their lives.
“We are aware of the allegations. This is a difficult time for us and we are taking things one step at a time. We are a close-knit family.
“He cared for his father. He and his older brother ran a panel beating business in Silverglen.”
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said a case of culpable homicide was being investigated.
“The cause of the accident is not known.”