The shell of a burnt-out truck and its load sits on the Pacific Highway between Cowper and Ulmarra.
The shell of a burnt-out truck and its load sits on the Pacific Highway between Cowper and Ulmarra.

Miracle escape from crash

SEEING the pile of twisted and heat-fused metal on the Pacific Highway near Ulmarra yesterday morning, it was difficult to believe that anyone could have walked away.

But fortunately, through good luck and the quick actions of neighbours, no life-threatening injuries resulted from two crashes and a subsequent inferno.

It could all have been so much worse.

About 2.30am a 24-year-old Sydney woman and her infant child ran off the road and crashed into a tree about five kilometres north of Ulmarra.

Her car bounced back on to the highway.

Dazed and in shock, but with only minor injuries, the young mother grabbed her child from the car, but wandered around in the middle of the road.

Neighbours from either side of the highway came to her aid – the Pacey family getting the woman off the road and into their home and Dean Short using a torch to alert other highway users, mostly heavy trucks, to the danger.

But one northbound truck didn’t see the crash in time.

According to Mr Young, who saw the incident, the driver braked heavily, jack-knifed and skidded up the highway towards him.

“I was standing where the car was and he just couldn’t stop,” he said.

“I had to run across the road out of the way and he clipped the car and hit the tree.

“We ran up and there was a little fire starting under the cab.

“The driver had broken glass all over his forehead and he was covered in blood.

“We went to get a fire extinguisher, but by the time we got back he was out of the truck. Diesel was gushing out.

“Within about three minutes it was really burning and there was a few explosions.

“It put the wind up me a bit. I am amazed no one got really hurt.”

He has lived next to the straight section of highway for about four years and in that time attended about four crashes.

The truck crashed into a large tree in the front yard of the Pacey family – only metres from their children’s bedroom.

The danger and noise from the highway had already convinced them to move and yesterday they left.

It was the first crash the Pacey family had seen since they moved into their home about 22 months ago, but they are not sticking around for another one.

Adam Pacey said the collision and subsequent fire were too close for comfort.

The truck was carrying perfumes imported from Great Britain, batteries and industrial rollers.

There were initial fears hazardous chemicals from the truck could find their way into the Clarence River.

The highway was blocked from 2.30am until about mid-morning when one lane opened.

The diversion created traffic chaos on the Grafton Bridge through peak hour, and there were extensive delays at the Bluff Point ferry at Lawrence.

The truck driver discharged himself from Coffs Harbour Health Campus yesterday, and the woman received treatment at Grafton Base Hospital for minor injuries.


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