Voice of Sport

Navigator Dusquene dies during rally in Rwanda; event cancelled

Speeding Subaru car hits tree trump trapping the Belgian for minutes. Motoring fraternity expresses shock over loss of one of the most prominent competitors in the region


MOTOR RALLY co-driver Christophe Dusquene died after a crash forcing the Rallye des Mille Collines in Rwanda to be cancelled over the weekend.

The veteran Belgian was navigating Rwandan driver Claude Kwizera who was in the lead of the event in the early stages. During the stage two section in Gakenke, Eastern Province their Subaru Impreza N12 hit a tree stump forcing the car that was on high speed, to skid sideways.

Trapped

The effect of the bang caused the tree stump to press the door 30cm inside the car trapping Dusquene in his bucket seat.

With a three-minute interval between drivers in a rally, the next pair Elefterios Mitraros and his navigator Paolo Paganin stopped to alert the rest who were coming at full speed.

A dozen minutes later, Rogers Sirwomu, a Ugandan navigator with driver Musa Kabega pulled out the shattered right door and used a hoe provided by residents to free Dusquene’s legs before using a safety knife to split the helmet strap to set his head free.

Oxygen

“He talked to me after taking him out of the car and he admitted that he was feeling a lot of pain on his waist and chest. Shortly, the ambulance arrived and he received first aid from the nurse and doctor who put him on oxygen support since he was having difficulty in breathing,” explained Sirwomu.

Dusquene was then rushed to nearby Gahini Hospital but died on the way. Kwizera sustained injuries and is currently being treated at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali.

Embassy

The 54-year-old Dusquene flew in a fortnight ago from his home country, Belgium to be part of this competition. He was a retired security officer at the Belgian Embassy in Kigali.

Since the beginning of the year, the fallen co-driver was navigating for John Murengezi, who injured his left arm after his car hit a tree stump in the Huye Rallye Memorial Gakwaya in October.

Good friend

“Every time Dusquene came to Kigali, he called me first. I have never found it easier in my entire life to be friends with someone than it was with him. He was a very kind person, very nice and very easy to get along with. He was a good friend of mine and I will miss him so much,” said a teary Murengezi.

Four-time national champion Davite Giancarlo who raced with Dusquene in his first ever rally in Rwanda and always filled in for his current co-driver Sylvia Vindevogel who is based in Burundi for domestic races, was left speechless after learning about the tragic accident.

Joking

“He was a very nice man and a very good friend of mine. I talked to him 10 minutes before he died when we were in the tube, before the start of the stage with all the drivers and we were joking with him and also talking about the stage,” mentioned Giancarlo.

Table leader on the National Rally Championships standings, Valery Bukera from Burundi, who was in the running for the national title with Kwizera, expressed grief and said, “I talked to him yesterday (Friday) after the super stage and even this morning after the first stage but it is tough to speak to someone and minutes later, someone else tells you that he passed away.”

Miss him

Course director Nzamwita said that, “Dusquene was a very good friend, very humble and nice to everyone. We shall miss him for sure.”

Sylvia Vindevogel, who was also in Uganda at the 2009 Pearl of Africa rally when Ugandan rally ace Riyaz Kurji died after a terrible car crash was saddened by the accident. She said, “It is very overwhelmingly sad.”

– Additional reporting by [Rwand] ‘The New Times’