Macabre crash site looters warned

The MVA Fund has warned motorists who stop at crash sites and loot vehicles, amongst other things, that the practise is dangerous and must cease.

01 October 2019 | Accidents

A disturbing trend of people exploiting crash sites by stealing the belongings of the traumatised passengers, including the injured or dead, for among other things, food and money, is strongly condemned. Looters are also warned of the many risks they expose themselves too while scouring through wrecked vehicles.

A statement issued by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund's spokesperson Surihe Gaomas-Guchu pleaded with the public to stop looting crashed cars and instead to focus on how they can assist.

“Instead of looting a vehicle when you arrive at a crash scene, rather take a moment and analyse the scene and make rational, safe decisions,” she said.

Gaomas-Guchu added that the Fund “condemns inappropriate behaviour by the public at crash sites” and called on everyone to treat crash sites with the necessary sensitivity and respect to those involved in the accident.

She also warned that looting vehicles involved in crashes is a risky and irresponsible act, and moreover exposes these culprits to various risks.

These involve infections from blood or other bodily fluids on the scene, injuries from the wreckage, risk of inhaling noxious fumes, being fatally injured in an explosion caused by the crashed vehicle, and the risk of injury from oncoming traffic.

Further, those who steal food from the cars are at risk of consuming contaminated food.

“Considering the dangers involved in looting, the MVA Fund urges the public to refrain from looting crashed vehicles and unnecessarily surrounding such scenes as this may lead to more injuries.”

She added that crowds of people surrounding a crash scene also jeopardise the investigations into crashes by distorting evidence on the scene.

Further, those in need of medical attention are compromised, as first responders struggle to access them, blocked by curious onlookers and looters.

Gaomas-Guchu underlined that different protocols apply to different types of crash scenes, and advised the public only to stop at a crash site if it is possible to do so, and then at a safe distance.

She advised further that it is crucial to turn hazard lights on and to erect a warning triangle to warn other motorists of the possible danger ahead.

“This will allow them enough time to slow down. While doing this, ensure that you are safe - you will not help the situation if your safety is compromised, or if you run the risk of injuring yourself,” Gaomas-Guchu said. Members of the public are further advised to observe the scene for possible hazards, which include fuel leaks which could cause a fire or explosion.

Furthermore the public should switch off the ignition of the car involved in the crash, to further reduce the risk of a fire.

The MVA advises moreover that the public should assess whether anyone is injured, and if so, call emergency services for help.

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