HARARE – One life lost is one too many, especially someone so young and promising as Aidan O’Donovan, the gifted Falcon College pupil who died in a horrific crash last Sunday as the elite Matabeleland school’s rugby teams had almost reached home from matches in Harare.

Deeper depths of tragedy and grief were however prevented by the heroic driver, whose split-second decision had him just managing to sway the out-of-control and overturning school-bus from heavier impact, potentially killing everyone on board.

Derek Chiwara, Falcon’s director of rugby, had prepared himself for the moment – and said his prayers. He describes how quick-thinking Bheki Donga, the youthful driver, swung into action and avoided the worst for the 60-plus passengers.

“The bus started swerving as it went downhill on the dreaded danger spot by the Blue Hills,” Chiwara tells SportsCast from a Bulawayo hospital where he is recovering from a neck injury.

“It started sliding downhill towards the ravine. At this stage, the driver had no control over the bus. Bheki, however, worked hard to steer it away from what looked like sudden death for us all. His driving skills did come into play as he managed to get the bus to make a complete 180 degrees turn. The momentum got the bus facing the cliff, and a crash was inevitable. We all held on tightly, bracing for impact. At the point of impact, the bus flipped, tossing us into the air. The good thing was that the bus was not speeding. Had he been speeding, we would have all been dead. I would like to comment the driver for his efforts.”

Other squad members also suffered injuries and were hospitalised.

Upper Six learner O’Donovan died on the spot, plunging the Zimbabwean sporting community into mourning.

First XV star Aidan O’Donovan did not survive the accident.

For Chiwara, miraculously escaping death doesn’t  exactly ease the anguish of losing a team member and bright young man.

“The experience of being involved in a fatal accident is one you want to erase from your memory,” says the former Harare Sports Club loose-forward.

“It’s horrific and definitely unpleasant. The fact that we lost a student, a player, an athlete, a son and future star really put me and everyone who else who knew him in a dark hole. He worked hard to achieve all he had, and he was a dream chaser who was looking forward to more accomplishments. It will take forever to come to terms with his death. I guess we have to painfully accept his departure on earth and pray he is in a better place. I loved him like he was my own and I’m hurting just like I know his family and schoolmates are hurting too.”


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