Dave Hanton

DAVID HANTON
1/12/1965 to 25/3/2010  
Johan Conradie runs barefoot during the running leg of the SpecSavers Ironman South Africa which took place in Port Elizabeth on Sunday 25 April. Johan dedicated his Ironman to Dave Hanton, who was killed during an Ironman training run a few weeks before the event. Johan ran barefoot, just the way him and Dave had trained.  

Dave Hanton was tragically killed by a car during an Ironman training run on the road leading to the Grahamstown army base on Thursday 25 March 2010. He also planned to run his first Comardes this year. Dave and Johan Conradie were on a training run last night when the accident happened, Johan is physically fine.

We as a club wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Dave's wife Sarah and children John-William (5) and Ursula (10). Our sympathy also goes to Johan who was a great friend of Dave. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this incredibly difficult time. -Stephen


FROM A FRIEND:

David Hanton was hit and killed late yesterday afternoon by car driven by a soldier from the local army base.

Dave and Johan were running towards the Grahamstown Golf Club facing the oncoming traffic when the smart sedan driven by the soldier approached from the army base, overtook and hit Dave on the other side of the road, throwing him into the air.

David was hit from behind and died quickly from internal injuries, at a glance to his upper body, probably his head.

Damage to the vehicle was to a low-down fender on the drivers side (a piece was broken off) and a body or head-shaped impression was smashed into the driver’s windscreen.

It was still daylight.

Police were on the scene and said there were long skid marks, but this might not belong to the death car.

Colin Meyer arrived first and then I got there in time to see David being taken away.

Police on the scene said the driver had first tried to run away and that there was a problem trying to find out who was driving.

However, the on-scene investigation was immediate,looked thorough and was conducted by Captain Riaan Havenga.

David and Johan, his close training and racing partner and friend for some years, were doing the last stretch of training ahead of next month’s Ironman – mostly barefoot.

David was married to Sarah and they have two children.

David was our friend. In recent years he’d picked himself up from a sodden patch in his life and had become a super-fit, top local athlete. Despite being totally driven – which he loved -- he was also an extremely compassionate and kind person to his friends. He said (among his many sayings), that “not a day has passed when I have not enjoyed training”.

His passing leaves a gap in the lives of his friends and the many people he came to know in the city and area.

In fact, he was an extraordinary person, who lived an epic life.

We will all have many stories to tell and right now his death seems to be the result of a totally pointless act.

My thoughts are with Sarah and the children. -MIKE LOEWE

 

Father of two killed while training

GROCOTTS MAIL -

A local businessman was hit and killed by a vehicle driven by a soldier on the road between the military base and the Grahamstown Golf Club on Thursday last week.

David Hanton, who co-owned IT Solutions, died on the scene after Zingisile Nikelo, a soldier stationed at Grahamstown's military base, hit him as he overtook a car on the narrow road.

Nikelo's vehicle hit Hanton, a father of two, from behind, throwing him into the air. He died at the scene soon afterwards.

Hanton was running with his friend, state prosecutor Johan Conradie, who was running in front of Hanton when the incident occured.

“It was too sudden, he was a little bit behind me, I didn't see the impact.” He said the driver just sat for a while in his car and “got out slowly and stood there in a daze”.

By the time Nikelo tried to run away from the scene, Conradie had already identified him. He says they were training for the Ironman in Port Elizabeth next month.

“We started training together in 2007,” he said. Conradie added that he had entered the Comrades Marathon together with Hanton who would have ran his first Comrades this year.

Fellow runner, Mike Loewe said: “David was our friend. In recent years he’d picked himself up from a sodden patch in his life and had become a super-fit, top local athlete.

Despite being totally driven, he was also an extremely compassionate and kind person to his friends.” He said that among Hanton's many sayings was that “not a day has passed when I have not enjoyed training”.

Loewe says his passing leaves a gap in the lives of his friends and the many people he came to know in the city and area.

“He was an extraordinary person, who lived an epic life. We will all have many stories to tell and right now his death  seems to be the result of a totally pointless act. My thoughts are with his wife Sarah and the children.”

Nikelo appeared at the Grahamstown Magistrate's Court facing charges of culpable homicide last Friday and was granted R500 bail. The case was remanded until 2 June.

A group of Grahamstown runners pay their respects at the accident scene, where Dave hanton was killed while on an Ironman training run. See HOME PAGE for more on Dave Hanton's tragic accident.

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The following was published in
Mike Loewe's Makana Moon on
2 April 2010 (PDF's above):


I was sad. Now I am angry

Courts must do their work and you are innocent until proven guilty, but right now I know that a soldier killed my friend, David Hanton, 44.

That is my feeling, my opinion, not the court’s finding.

But it is also part of public opinion. How David was killed must emerge in the court and the courts must do its work. Justice must be done.

That soldier, if they find him, will come with his story and maybe some new truths, but right now my feeling and that of a number of people who also use that road – golfers, dog walkers, runners, cyclists, pedestrian tavellers, microlight pilots and other aviators – is that soldiers drive terribly on that stretch.

The feeling is that they are a menace to all other users of that tiny tar strip, a law unto themselves.

There’s one amajoni who recently overtook his mate on the left side, over the yellow line, slowed to draw near, hooted and waved forcing me, the oncoming jogger, to step off the road.

Callous indifference? Enemies of the people?

Moving on: we need to force these soldiers and their newly obtained cars to adhere to civilian rules of the road.

If the driver of the killer car is found guilty, I’d like his weapon-onwheels decommissioned, confiscated, sold and the earnings paid over to the family, now without a major earner.

Should it be so, this murderous rogue, must apologise to the family, must know that he killed a vibrant, successful human being, a father, a lover, a contributor, a striver, a wonderful all-rounder. A special guy. You’d probably have liked him, ama-joni.

You should attend the funeral and come over and acknowledge the humanity of the other person who died on your windscreen.

And visit the memorial site and read the love letter from a widow to her man, the father of her children.

The law must know that the public want sentences that are meaningful, that punish while acknowledging the chasm that exists so clearly highlighted in this case, between a soldier in his fast,

new metal and glass weapon, and the man he slew who was running almost barefoot on the opposite side of the road.

For what?

The courts are independent and we need to have confidence that they will come to their findings in a fair and impartial manner. I saw some great cops on the scene, but you never know about the quality of the investigation thereafter. I suspect there are already problems.

And the soldiers, I know, were on the scene trying to cover for the driver. Was there tampering with evidence by bystanders?

Right now, I have feelings that need to be expressed. Those various stages we go through after death of someone close.

Some are sad, some are angry.

Right now it does not feel like an accident.

I want that road policed, I want those soldiers retrained, retested, I want the base commander to rein them in, remind them of their obligations to serve and protect, and not harm or kill the citizenry.

I want to see a change of attitude, recognition that others have

the right to use that road that drivers need to be alert and safety

conscious.

I don’t want to feel that there is callous, indifferent, arrogant, dozy, drunken behaviour behind the wheel.

I don’t want us to have a useless, dangerous after-hours army.

The army needs to reassure us that their troops are not speeding, overtaking recklessly, drinking and driving, calling each other on cells – even back to the exit gate -- to warn of speed traps, driving in the yellow lines, driving unroadworthy vehicles, behaving as if the road to town is under army rule.

And do these soldiers have valid driver’s licences?

Commander, if you are unable to control your troops with something as basic as their behaviour behind the wheel, then the public needs to know this and to start protecting itself, and to bring

pressure to bear, to uphold the rights of people as enshrined in the Constitution.

As a start in a campaign to protect ourselves, we need to free that road from this deadly behaviour among soldiers.

These pages are open for responses

Mike Loewe,editor.

 
The following was published in
Mike Loewe's Makana Moon on
2 April 2010:


Buddy, goodbye


When Dave Hanton died while running, he had his hand on his friend’s back.

“C’mon buddy!”

How many times didn’t we hear that! (In my case: “Faster!”)

You might recall I wrote a mountain biking story in which a friend’s hand on my back got me through a harsh ride.

Of course, that was David.

He had our back.

Now he’s gone, last seen flying through the air, a wife, two kids, a good business, a great build up to his second full Ironman -- all destroyed instantly in one massive hit. Dead at 44.

No wonder there was is faintly surprised expression on his face.

We are saying: Why? This is too soon. A soldier is charged with culpable homicide.The wheels of justice turn slowly – nowhere near the speed of David’s wheels, hunched and honed, down on his tri-bars, doing the “Cross”, the flattest section of road here, perfect for Ironman training. It’s the road he died on.

We remember him smiling, snacking his famous cordon bleu oatmeal and date creation (which came after the honey and molasses creation and that was after his Garmin gepatis …

These nutrients came in silver foil wrapping, and he always had a few stacked in his jersey for his training mates.

Haggis he only made for me once, on January 12, 2008, a day when all Scots commemorate Robert Burns’ life. David read the Scottish liberation fighter’s poetry from a book at the dinner table, but he’d recite it word-perfect on the bike too. And translate.

Candice recalls he was always grinning on that bike.

Johan recalls how they were chatting minutes before he died, with Dave saying how happy he was; how his life was coming together on all fronts, specifically how he and Sarah were

connecting beautifully.

He had his training: she had the horse he gave her.

Life was in balance. It was good.

Our Scottish-South African friend lived big. In the 80's he was part of Scotland's hard-core rock climbing sub-culture, traveling to Spain and France. He was young, lean and supremely fit. He lived to climb. He cycled around Iceland and across Canada. He kayaked some of the hardest-grade rivers. He was a vibrant young man. Life was lusty and good. Life in the oil rigger's town of Aberdeen in Scotland was violent and angry. As a teenager working the jet-engone driven cement gun on the rig, he learned to drink hard on shore, and behaved like a lunatic. But rock climbing, especially with a doctor friend, channeled his rage into passion and focus. He climbed up to grade 29 on trad gear. Intense. And he got through.

Love, a sudde emigration to the Eastern Cape, marriage, two kids, a good and growing IT business and he was into the middle years.

He came across as tough and decisive, but his fuse had grown a lot longer with age! He was patient, loving, and even went with Sarah to a few shows! He even wrote me a short story once!

Underneath that grim Scottish mask, behind all those slow pauses, was a very smart mind, one full of contemplation, always sizing up, always creative, looking for the next solution, the next innovation, the next project!

Once he had read the book and decided, that was it, our fate was sealed!

Although, it should be admitted right now: he was finessed into captaining the ill-fated Khawuleza Makanas, which he did with gusto and determination despite the flawed material he had to work with! The shredded bums, the asthmatics, the geriatrics, the histrionics – all great stuff and he was up for it.

Of late, we had to all throw away our shoes – and run barefoot! Just like he used to in the hills of Scotland, where, when the weather was bad (duh), he'd run all day, though probably not barefoot!

He was the ultimate organizer. Life was arranged to fit in with his Ironman training programme: a monstrous document which caused him and his partner (and me when I was on it) great pain.

“That's why we do it? For the pain!” And the pleasure thereafter. Potent cups of coffee at Wimpy, Red Cafe, the Waterfront, Boardwalk, that Thai spot in East London and, infamously, at some dive in Bloemfontein.

Best coffee was, of course, on a Saturday at noon at his house under the palm tree by the pool, avoiding the bird shit, lekka knachered from David's very own mini-triathlon. Awesome!

About four or so years ago, within hours after giving up alcohol - “It wasn't that I thought I had a problem, it was that I was so embarrassed about looking at that person lying under the table and realizing, og my god, that is me!” - he was back on his bike.

But he was so weak that after a paltry pedal on the Bedford road, he got back to town, leant against the walls of he and Gary's IT Solutions shop in High Street, and bellowed at the top of his formidable lungs as cramps took hold. People fled in terror fearing he was having a psychotic episode!

At the time of his arbitrary, random, pointless, death, around 5ish of a blissful afternoon, he was among the top handful of super athletes in the town, the Ironmen and women. He'd broken sub 3, and was happy to ride 150km in five hours recently. He spoke proudly of how he'd trained to the point of throwing up!

But his greatest joy was to (fairly) comfortably ride from the Grahamstown Golf Club to the Riebeek East turn-off and back in under an hour.

He says attending the AA meetings was a very Grahamstown affair – many locals were there, but he disagreed afterwards with the philosophy and found his own. It was that he would rather 'choose' to drink or not, and he did have a glass of wine – and discovered he had little interes in it. It didn't taste good, and it irritated him to think even one glass would impact on his training starting from “the bridge at 6am”. So he didn't.

In athlete-speak, he was 'a machine' and he thoroughly enjoyed the match-up with his biggest bud, Johan Conradie. It was as if the agro working-class Scottish rigger in him had found an equvalent in a pugilistic, klein dikboer who, as a 16-year-old troep, only lasted 14 days in a local English base, after as many brawls.

Of course, they had both grown hugely through their tough, youthful years and Johan is a devout believer in Christ and a huge softy, but out on the road there was an electrifying alignment of sheer bloody-minded belligerence – and equal affection. In training, these guys were a heartbeat apart. And if one surged foolishly, there would be the instant, grunted reprimand: “Put 'yer ego in 'yer pocket!”

Coffee? Yes, to that David was addicted, but even that was being moderated.

While he and Johan trained hard, they were always inclusive, even democratic, and would ensure that training took place where we'd all leave and arrive back together.

David was rarely sentimental, and would be distinctly embarrassed at seeing his friends grieving for him. But if you looked through the chinks in his chain, you'd see a deeply compassionate man, who helped an employee's child with school fees, called ambulances for injured squatters, and gave generously to his friends.

He had a tremendous sense of humour, and now that he is gone, I can safely say that he was a very sexy and locally admirred man!

I loved David's ability to move on. Next! No looking back. And yet he did once or twice look back, on his childhood, things that happened, some sad, some hilarious.

I'm only writing about the sides of Dave I saw, he knew a lot of people and everyone has their story. I know that Sarah will be telling hers at his memorial service.

Mine is about a Scottish internationalist, with superb computer and business skills, who had in his scratched CD collection classical, Scottish folk, Isaac Hayes, Led Zeppelin and his favourite – some

horrendous Scottish headbangers, the only line of which one could hear was: “Your are on my sh*t list!” music – who sold up everything in “48 hours” (OK, with a stop-over or two), and came to the Eastern Cape with the love of his life, laid down roots, and was raising his family and reclaiming the things he loved to do.