After accidentally killing his wife in a collision, husband runs to the burning tanker and lies down in the flames

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Trigger warning: Contains graphic visuals that may be distressing to some.

It might look like just another accident on the highway but there’s a heartbreaking story behind it. On Saturday, June 13, 2020, a collision took place near Grabouw in South Africa.

The man behind the wheel in a Renault Duster SUV, and his wife, rammed into a petrol tanker on Houwhoek Pass, near Grabouw. The tanker exploded into flames after the collision and the Renault Duster SUV then rammed into a crash barrier and made its way down a steep path to the nearby embankment that’s lined up with trees, as reported by The Sun.

The woman in the car, the driver’s wife, is said to have been killed by the impact of the car crash. What was shocking was that the car’s driver can be seen running towards the tanker while bystanders were screaming at him to step back.

The man was seen lying down in the blazing flames and eventually burned to death. Reports later revealed that the man was so overcome with grief over losing his wife that he decided to end his own life as well.

Investigations later found that the husband and wife were 61-year-old Ben Wiid and 58-year-old Riana; the former was a retired pharmacist and the latter, a retired teacher, according to Cape Town Etc. Their two daughters and three grandchildren are now bereaved.

News 24 reported that before Ben ran into the flames, he was approached by cyclists who were passing by and offered him help. But he stayed in the middle of the car-wrecking, holding his wife with his face pressed against her. Despite the cyclists’ attempt at offering him or trying to console him, Ben kept refusing and reportedly said, “Can’t you see my wife is dead? Leave me alone! Leave me alone!” before he ran into the flames.

Ralf Zipfel, who was among the cyclists who ran to help him didn’t expect that he would do such a thing. “I was with him. He wouldn’t get out of the car. He kept telling us to leave him alone,” Ralf said.

Ben just kept holding his wife in his arms, saying “My wife is dead. Please leave me alone. Just leave me! Can’t you see? Just leave me!”

Saying those last and final words, Ben held his wife close to him. “He held his face to hers. She looked very peaceful. I kept thinking, what should I do, what should I do?” Ralf said.

Then, within moments, Ben ran up the slope and jumped into the flames.

Investigations into the accident took place and an emergency service source said, “There can be no explanation other than he was intent on ending his life as the flames from fuel burn so hot that nobody even if disorientated would head towards them even dazed by accident,” according to The Sun.

In March 2020, Ben and Riana had celebrated their 35th anniversary. The couple had known each other from school. “The love between those two people… they were true soul mates,” said a friend, according to News 24.

Initial speculations suggested that the couple might have been on a death mission. But the friend said it wasn’t true. “On Facebook, there are horrible people insinuating that the collision was intentional. That isn’t true. Ben simply lost his concentration in the moments before the accident. The truck driver tried to swerve to avoid the collision, while Ben swerved in the opposite direction. That is why the truck collided with the side where Riana was sitting,” the friend said.

The friend also added, “I firmly believe that, in that moment, he raised his hand in those flames, Riana took it and they went to the afterlife together.”