News

Tragedy just metres away

Krystal Gray with her girls Claudia, 3, Josslyn, 5, and Olivia Brown, 6, next to the fence which was destroyed by a truck on the Pacific Hwy in June 2010.
Krystal Gray with her girls Claudia, 3, Josslyn, 5, and Olivia Brown, 6, next to the fence which was destroyed by a truck on the Pacific Hwy in June 2010. Adam Hourigan

WHAT sort of tragedy would it take for the powers that be to fast-track the duplication of the Pacific Hwy?

It is almost two years since Olivia Brown, 6, and her sisters Claudia, 3, and Josslyn, 2, were metres from being victims of a stretch of road that risks being ignored again after the NSW Government failed this week to match the Federal Government's $3.56 billion commitment to upgrade.

Her three baby girls asleep in the next room, Krystal Gray thought a bunk bed had fallen over when she was awoken by a thunderous thud about 4.30am on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.

"I looked outside and there was a truck sitting outside my window ... it scared the crap out of me," she recalled this week as part of The Examiner's Fix the Pacific Hwy - No Excuses campaign.

"There were sparks flying everywhere from the wires that had all been torn down."

Ms Gray remembers it being particularly cold on the morning a northbound semi-trailer missed the first left-hand bend into Ulmarra, crossed the highway and rolled onto its side just metres from her front door.

The truck took out the family's side fence and its load of recycled plastic was strewn for hundreds of metres.

"He rolled over onto his side; that's the only thing that saved him from coming into my house," Ms Gray said.

"The kids woke up petrified and screaming; they still have nightmares about it. Some nights they wake up dreaming about a truck screaming around the corner."

"But the trucks just kept on coming; there were live powerlines on the road and they just didn't stop."

"I thought the man would have been dead but he only had a few scratches on his hand," she said. "He fell asleep, but I don't think he was charged with anything."

Ms Gray said she had lived in Ulmarra all her life but had only become fearful of the highway since her rude awakening two years ago.

"My dad bought this house in 1985 and I remember people saying then that Ulmarra would be bypassed within 10 years; that's why he bought the house.

"That was six years after the Cowper crash. I remember that Cowper was supposed to be the first section upgraded and it still hasn't been done where the crash happened.

"Now it's just getting worse; there are more trucks driving to tighter timelines."

Ms Gray said she'd love to see speed cameras on both sides of the road at Ulmarra in the short term but called for an Ulmarra bypass urgently, considering the high number of crashes in the small village.

"In some ways we want to sell the house and move, but we love it here. We just want the highway diverted as they've been promising for so long," she said.

An 11-year-old boy was killed in his sleep by a wayward truck at Urunga in January and the ensuing campaign led to Urunga being lifted in priority for an upgrade.

While the Feds have agreed to match NSW's $1.5 billion commitment - the remaining $2 billion of Commonwealth money may very well go to other projects across the nation unless matching funding can be found.

Should NSW borrow the funds? Should the Commonwealth increase it's funding? Should state money be diverted from other projects?

Topics:  family, pacific highway, tragedy, truck



GALLERY: Keating crowned Mr Jacaranda

Mr Jacaranda, Tyson Keating charmed the ladies on Friday night with his fantastic dance moves and his tight, white tennis outfit.

Mr Jacaranda a great success

Is your barbecue safe for footy finals weekend

Better safe than sorry when you fire up the barbie this weekend

Author keeps Red Rock story alive

FOND MEMORIES: Red Rock resident and author of new book, The Village That Said No to Town Water, Graham Searl, flicks through the publication.

Book launch at Red Rock today

Local Partners

Lady Gaga confirms Super Bowl show

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga to perform in coveted spot

Girls actors give emotional tributes to hit show

Actor Allison Williams

Actors farewell smash hit HBO show Girls after six seasons

Janet Jackson's pregnancy is 'best thing'

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson can't wait to become a mum

Jay Z signs two-year movie and TV deal

Rapper Jay Z

Rapper Jay Z has signed a television and movie deal

Nowhere to Hyde: Matt Nable is Australia's man in demand

Matt Nable stars as Detective Gary Hyde in the TV series Hyde & Seek.

NABLE returns to the small screen amidst busy film work.

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E7: Manifest review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

Clarence Valley property prices go through the roof

Buyers are hungry to sink their teeth into the Clarence Valley

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

NEW HOME: Agents to the rescue for family of nine

RELIEF: Tanya Cone (middle) with her kids and McKimm's Real Estate property managers Regan Firth and Nadine Greenhalgh who helped find her family a home.

DEX article prompts property managers to help family find new home