Jeep safari ends in tragedy

A GROUP of English and Dutch holidaymakers enjoying a jeep safari up in the Loulé hills, on Monday of this week, saw what should have been a fun day out turn into a nightmare. The driver was killed and all eight passengers, three of whom were children, were injured when the 4×4 vehicle came off the road in Conqueiros, close to the village of Alte. All the victims (five English and three Dutch tourists) were transported to Faro Hospital, two of which were rushed by helicopter. According to Correio da Manhã newspaper, the excursion was being offered by a company called Zebra Safari, based in Albufeira. The driver was a 31-year-old Portuguese man who had been working for the company for six years and was said to be “very experienced”.

When the accident occurred, the vehicle was apparently travelling down a steep narrow road. The driver was unable to control the jeep round a corner and it came off the road. According to the marks left on the ground, the vehicle kept falling until it hit a tree.

The Commandant of Loulé Bombeiros, José Faísca, who was at the scene, said: “The driver and one of the tourists were found trapped underneath the jeep, while the rest of the occupants were found spread out on the ground around the vehicle.”

Two of the victims who had suffered the most serious injuries were airlifted to Faro Hospital by helicopter. Of the remaining passengers, two arranged their own transport for the journey to hospital, the others were taken by ambulance.  One of the women suffered fractures to her leg and trauma to her skull, the second suffered trauma to the legs and pelvis, the third escaped with just cuts and grazes. One of the men suffered thoracic trauma and one of the children, aged 10, suffered serious knee injuries. The other child, aged 14, was treated for cranial trauma and a fractured pelvis.

The transport police and the GNR are investigating the causes of the accident. Meanwhile, Zebra Safari has issued a statement saying that it has been offering jeep safari tours since 1994 and this is the first incident of this sort to take place. Meanwhile, the Algarve Tourism Board has guaranteed that the company, along with its vehicles, is licensed and has undergone regular inspections.

The Dutch Ambassador and British Consul are presently assisting the families involved.