“Can’t you see my wife is dead? Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”
These were the last words of Ben Wiid, 61, where he clung to Riana, 58, his wife of 35 years, with his face tightly against her in the car wreck in which she had died moments before.
Wiid then ran into an unprecedented act of inconsolable shock on the slope where their car rolled off Saturday after a collision with a fuel tanker on the N2 near Grabouw. He went to see the driver of the burning tanker and other bystanders in the flames, where he burned to death.
A Kleinmond resident, Ralf Zipfel, told Tuesday of the last moments he spoke to Wiid, little knowing what would happen next.
Zipfel and a group of people went cycling and drinking coffee when they heard the crash. Zipfel saw the Wiid couple’s vehicle breaking through a railing along the road, driving down the slope and stopping in the bushes below. He ran to go and help.
“I was with him. He didn’t want to get out of the car and told us to let him go, “Zipfel says.
Wiid held his wife.
“My wife is dead. Please leave me alone. Just leave me alone! Can’t you see? Just leave me alone! ” were Wiid’s words to Zipfel as he held Riana’s body.
“His face was with hers. She seemed very peaceful. I thought, what should I do? What should I do? ” Zipfel describes the scene.
He warned Wiid that the petrol tanker they collided with could explode at any moment, but Ben still refused to release his wife. One could hear small explosions at the tanker all the time as the tires due to the heat exploded, among other things.
Emergency services had already been called and Zipfel thought there was nothing he could do and got away from the Wiid couple’s car.
It was then that Wiid ran up the slope and did the unthinkable. In front of everyone on the scene, as well as a woman taking off the burning tanker, he ran to the flames and lay down in it.
“Oh boy, what is the man doing?” one can hear the shocked reaction of the truck driver.
According to Zipfel, he wanted to come forward and tell what happened, especially because there are people who think it was intentional.
A friend speaks out after the crash
“I believe in my heart the moment he put his hand up in the flames was when Riana took his hand and they went on to the next life,” says the friend.
She says in a video taken by a woman from the scene of the accident that one only sees part of what happened. The shock of Wiid realizing his wife is dead is not visible in the video.
“The real life drama wasn’t in the flames. It was down at the wreck, ”says the friend.
“On Facebook, people make horrible claims that the accident was intentional. It is not so. Ben’s attention may have been drawn off for a moment before the accident. The truck driver tried to swing and Ben turned again to the other direction, so it was the passenger side where Riana was sitting that hit the petrol tanker, ”says the friend.
The Wiid couple did it all together, she says. He was a retired pharmacist who previously worked at Dis-Chem in Somerset West and Riana was a teacher. They liked to drive their grandchildren around and there was still a baby seat in the back of their car at the scene of the accident.
According to the girlfriend, the couple were on their way from the Strand on Saturday to collect keys for Kleinmond.
“The love between these two people. . . They were absolute soul mates, ”says the friend.