Cape Town - The family of late Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander are
looking at the positives in the wake of Charles Stander’s devastating cycling
accident at the weekend.
Charles, who was wearing a helmet, sustained four broken
vertebrae – two in his neck and two in his back – and broke two front teeth
when he hit a ditch covered by overgrown grass and was sent over his handlebars
during an advanced group ride at the Burry Stander Bike Park in Umtentweni on
The 62-year-old is recovering at Hibiscus Private Hospital,
where he underwent successful neck and back surgery on Monday, and while they
are fully aware of the long road to recovery that lies ahead for Charles, the
Standers are grateful he’s alive and didn’t suffer any catastrophic or
“It is a big setback for all of us and came as a big shock,
but at the same time, we are extremely grateful that it is not worse,” Charles’
wife Mandie told eHowzit.
“Based on how severely the vertebrae in his neck were
broken, Doctor Freek (Coetzee) said he could easily have died on impact, just
“He could also have been paralysed by the fractures in his
back, so we are well aware of how fortunate Charles is.
“We know it’s going to be a long road to recovery, but the
fact that he is alive and not paralysed is a silver lining and something
positive we can hold on to.”
Mandie said her husband is still in a lot of pain.
“Being in such pain, he is very much living in the moment
and taking things day by day, so I don’t think he is really thinking about what
happened and his injuries too much from an emotional point of view.”
Charles is on the mend and could be discharged this
weekend, however, doctors will continue to monitor him closely before a final
decision is made.
Charles’ crash has further compounded the Standers’ woes.
The culpable homicide trial of Njabulo Nyawose, the taxi
driver involved in the accident that claimed Burry’s live during the two-time
Cape Epic winner’s training ride in Shelly Beach on January 3, 2013, still
hasn’t reached a conclusion.
The latest development in the trial heard in the Port
Shepstone Magistrate’s Court earlier this month saw the defence, in a surprise
change in strategy, ask to view video footage of the events leading up to the
The defence had previously opposed the admissibility of the
video because of “its dubious origin.”
The video was admitted as evidence and viewed, after which
Magistrate Charmaine Barnard stated the star cyclist should have been visible
to Nyawose, who had previously testified that his vision was obscured by a
The trial was adjourned to March 24 for closing arguments.
“It is difficult and you do feel overwhelmed at times,”
Mandie admitted, adding, “We just try to stay strong in our faith in God…the
strength we’ve received from Him has kept us going.”
Mandie added his accident won’t discourage Charles, a
provincial mountain biking champion, from cycling.
“Cycling is Charles’ passion, it’s what he lives for. He
has just completed a 700km race on the old Cape Epic route and came through it
“You can’t stop living or live your life in fear, so
Charles will definitely be back on his bike.”
For the time being, the Standers – as they’ve done since
Burry’s fatal accident – will remain as positive and as mentally strong as
“The fact that it (the accident) happened here on the South
Coast and not in the Cape is a blessing in itself,” she concluded.
(Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media)