IT’S A BAD SIGN: House owner John McCaffery of Southgate looks at his house after a car crashed into it yesterday morning.
IT’S A BAD SIGN: House owner John McCaffery of Southgate looks at his house after a car crashed into it yesterday morning.

It’ll drive them ‘round the bend

THE sickening crunch of a Toyota Yaris slamming into the corner of their Southgate farmhouse was something John McCaffery and his partner Sue Webster were almost expecting.

In the four years since he bought back the family home he was born in - "for some peace and quiet" - seven cars have failed to negotiate the bend on the Grafton side of the Tarrant Bridge and crashed through fences on their property.

"And that's not counting the two that left the road, but didn't make the fence," Mr McCaffery said.

"I just hauled them out with the tractor, no questions asked."

Yesterday's crash at 9.45am, which left an elderly couple with injuries so severe the Westpac Rescue Helicopter flew them straight to Brisbane, was the worst they have experienced.

Grafton police said the accident appeared to be the result of an overtaking manoeuvre gone wrong.

Inspector Murray Gillett said three cars were in a line heading towards Grafton.

He said it appeared the elderly couple were in the second car, which attempted to overtake the first car at the same time as the third car was also trying to overtake.

"It looks like the two cars have clipped each other and the second car has speared off the road," Inspector Gillett said.

After leaving the road, the car leapt over the embankment, hit a fence post, snapping if off 30cm above the ground, careered across a paddock, sliced through a Cyclone mesh fence and then slammed into a brick pylon on the corner of the house.

The elderly couple were trapped in car for about 30 minutes while State Emergency Services personnel and paramedics worked to free them.

Mr McCaffery blamed the accidents on a misplaced speed sign, which he said encouraged drivers to speed up as they come around the bend.

He said Roads and Maritime Services had moved the sign about 180m further down the road from its original position and lowered the speed from 100kmh to 90kmh.

"But it's still in the wrong spot," he said. "It should be a bit further down the road and off the bend, so it encourages drivers to slow down around that bend."

Mr McCaffery said there were other contributing factors including a build up on the road from diesel fumes, which made the surface treacherously slippery in the wet, and the Lawrence Ferry.

"Cars come off the ferry in a bunch and they're all trying to overtake each other," he said.

"We've watched them come through the 50kmh zone at Southgate going 100kmh.

"They try to overtake on the bend past the end of the 50kmh sign and I don't care who you are, you can't see past that house down the road to see what's coming."

Inspector Gillett said the drivers of all the cars would be interviewed before police decided what action they would take.



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