A COUPLE were killed when their 4x4 plunged from a motorway bridge in South Africa.

Charity CEO Christopher Naylor, 57, and Christ Church Cathedral School head of science Susanna Naylor, 54, from Shipton-under-Wychwood, were on their way back to the airport on October 28, 2019, when tragedy struck.

On Thursday, Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard the couple were passengers in a Toyota Hilux on the N2 motorway in Bluewater Bay, near Port Elizabeth, when the right rear suspension attachment of a green trailer it was towing failed.

Oxford Mail: The coupleThe couple

The driver of the 4x4, Thando Kalipa, told police that he was approaching Swartkops Bridge at 90km per hour when one of his passengers raised the alarm. He looked back to see the trailer he was towing overturn.

The Toyota lost control, crashing into a Chrysler Neon sedan then tumbling over the barrier of the bridge and into the Swartkops River below.

Mr Kalipa said he’d been trapped by his seatbelt but passers-by managed to pull him and his passengers free. “I saw the people doing first aid to my passengers but I was not told what was happening,” he said.

A post-mortem carried out by the South African authorities concluded that Mr and Mrs Naylor had died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash. Another passenger, Wiltshire woman Miranda Harris, 66, and co-founder of the A Rocha conservation charity of which Mr Naylor was a director, also died in the tragedy.

Mrs Harris’ husband, Peter, then 57, a passenger in the car, told South African police he had no memory of the crash. The Naylors’ son, Sam, told the inquest that Mr Harris had said to him that it had been windy on the morning of the crash.

The driver of the Chrysler, which was travelling at around 80km per hour in the same direction as the Toyota, lost control but the vehicle remained on the bridge.

Oxford Mail: N2 at Swatkops Bridge (Google) N2 at Swatkops Bridge (Google)

Recording a conclusion of road traffic collision, senior coroner Darren Salter expressed his condolences to the family of Mr and Mrs Naylor.

He concluded the case: “At approximately 11.50 on October 28, Christopher and Susanna Naylor were passengers in a Toyota Hilux towing a trailer on the N2 motorway on Swartkops Bridge, Bluewater Bay, Port Elizabeth, when the trailer overturned due to wind and fatigue wear on a trailer attachment causing the driver to lose control and collide with another vehicle resulting in their vehicle crashing off the bridge and dropping into the river below.”

In the wake of the 2019, tributes poured in to Mr and Mrs Naylor.

Richard Murray, headmaster of Christ Church Cathedral School, said pupils, teachers and parents were ‘devastated’ by the death of head of science Susanna Naylor.

"Her wonderful sense of calm and poise ensured that her lessons were models of productivity, while her warmth and focus upon the individuals in her class meant that all the pupils knew that she cared for them and their achievements, he said.

Rev Dave Bookless, director of theology at A Rocha, said: "The death of Chris, Miranda and Susanna leaves a huge and irreplaceable hole in our lives and our organisation."


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