Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A painful reminder

Our thoughts and prayers go out today to our friends and colleagues at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., and to the family and friends of Carla Swart. Swart, who signed with HTC-Highroad this past fall, died today after being hit by a truck while training in South Africa.

According to the report from
The 23-year-old Swart was riding on the road to Marquard in the central Freestate province of South Africa when a truck slammed into her.

Barry Austin, Cycling South Africa’s team manager who saw the accident happen, said Swart turned around right in front of the oncoming truck moments after she had lost her cycling computer.

“I could see how the driver slammed on his breaks. He even swerved to the right so as to avoid smashing into Swart, but it was to no avail. The truck hit Swart full on, flinging her into the air,” Austin said.

Swart died before she reached the hospital.

According to Austin, Swart was doing time trialing exercises when the accident happened.

Swart was born in Graaff-Reinet, South Africa but moved to the USA with her family when she was 15. She represented South Africa in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, finishing eighth in the road race as the top South African finisher.

She was a multi-discipline US collegiate champion in 2008 and finished eighth in the 2010 Ronde Van Drenthe World Cup. She also won the best young rider's award in the Tour de L'Aude stage race and finished 10th in the women's race at the road world championship in Australia.

HTC-Highroad posted a moving message on the team's website: "Carla, in such a short time you became part of our family and touched us all with your vibrant personality and your constant smile. You infected us with your zest for life and we will forever have you in our hearts. Our wishes go out to Carla's family and loved ones."

Deon Swart, the father of Carla, wrote the following on her facebook wall. "Carla's dad here. We all know Carla has claimed her place in Heaven. She was in a cycling accident today in South Africa while training. Thanks to everyone that was so involved in her life and career. RIP Carla. What more can I say at this stage."

Be careful out there.

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