Pretoria – A crash with a twist – where a runner collided with a pedestrian during a race – has resulted in a legal wrangle.
At the centre of it was to determine whether the runner was liable for the injuries of the pedestrian, who had to undergo a hip replacement operation.
On the morning of Sunday, April 6, 2014, Jasmin Salie and a friend took a stroll along the Sea Point, Cape Town, promenade.
At the conclusion of her walk, Salie was knocked to the ground by runner Kristine Kalmer, who was an athlete participating in the annual Spar Ladies race which was organised by Western Province Athletics .
Salie sustained a fracture of the hip was taken to hospital by ambulance, where she underwent hip replacement surgery.
She sued the athletics club and Kalmer for damages.
The Western Cape High Court, however, last year dismissed the claim. The matter returned to court on appeal, where a judge this week ruled that both women – to a lesser or larger degree – had been negligent.
Salie, in the meantime, has died from causes unrelated to the running, but the executor of her estate represented her during the appeal against the dismissal of the claim.
Thousands of female participants, from professional and competitive runners to less serious athletes who dressed up in a variety of costumes to participate in the so-called “fun walk” participated in the race.
The start of the respective races was staggered to avoid congestion.
The 10km race, which Kalmer took part in, commenced in front of the Cape Town Stadium and followed a route along the Sea Point promenade.
Runners were diverted from the promenade back to the sidewalk at one point as maintenance was being done to the road.
Salie had been out walking with her friend along the promenade when three people she didn’t know asked her to take a picture of them.
As it turned out, Salie was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As she was taking the “happy snap”, the group of front runners came running past her, just a metre or two away. After she took the picture, Salie and the woman who gave her her camera to take the picture walked towards each other on the sidewalk so that Salie could return the camera.
The woman said before she could retrieve her camera, she heard Kalmer (later identified by her running number – 2 – pinned to her vest) shout at them to get out of her way.
The next moment Salie was knocked to the ground as Kalmer sped by at approximately 20km/h.
The collision was approximately in the middle of the pavement.
The witness, one Mrs Olckers, said that she and her friends were shocked to see what had just happened and, in particular, that Kalmer took no steps to stop and address the situation, but kept on running regardless.
An ambulance was called and after some time Salie was taken to hospital.
Kalmer testified that she was an experienced and accomplished middle distance runner at the time.
She competed regularly throughout the country for her team (Boxer Athletics Club) and had excelled in her sport as an elite runner.
Kalmer said her style was to focus on the ground immediately ahead of her, looking down as she concentrated on keeping to her pace.
She explained that she did not see Salie in time.
Judge Patrick Gamble said she was in a public space which was open to all comers on that day and it was indisputable that all runners participating in the event had to take account of this as they ran along either the promenade or the pavement.
“One is left with the abiding impression that she was running as if in a bubble, oblivious to what was happening around her and intent only on achieving her goal of winning the race,” he said.
While he found that she had a duty to keep a proper lookout for potential obstacles as she sped along, Salie was even more to blame.
“Mrs Salie had to be aware that there was a race on the go that dayc… At the point of collision she must have been aware that there were athletes whizzing past her,” the judge said.
He concluded that Salie’s negligence contributed 70% to the accident and that Kalmer had to contribute 30% towards the damages, which would be calculated at a later stage.