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



SUNDAY SAY: Where do the Bunya's grow?

The rough bark of the trunk of the Bunya. To get the cones naked young men climbed the Bunyas in the time-honoured way using vines for support.

Tree one of area's earliest plantings

Pacific Highway roadworks this week

Roadworks on the highway

Here's a list of all the spots where work will take place

SUNDAY SAY: The grass it can be greener

field of spring grass and forest

Short lawn not always the best

Local Partners

Un-American tale makes Lion weakest link in Oscars line-up

PSYCHOLOGY researchers find US films and actors most likely to win accolades at the Oscars.

Can rightful winner Midnight take out golden Gosling in Oscars?

Can Lion pip La La Land at the post in this year's Oscars? Sunny Pawar (pictured) helped bring a powerful film to the big screen.

WILL Aussie film Lion triumph or will popular La La Land prevail?

How to be spooky and sing like a man

Spooky Men's Chorale, looking a little less spooky, on Saturday morning at their masterclass.

A masterclass on how to be a spooky man (or woman).

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

Historic home 'Fairweather' up for action

Fairweather

Historic property owned for last 35 years up for sale

A piece of Clarence Valley heritage up for grabs

The historic house \"Ravensford\" located at 36 Villiers St in Grafton is currently on the market at McKimms Real Estate.

Take a look inside iconic home 'Ravenford'

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!