Roadside tributes to tragedies

THE statistics should have said it all but the grim reality is that lives are still being lost in the shadows of roadside crosses and memorials south of Coffs.

Over the past five years, way too many tributes have been erected in loving memory of motorists and truck drivers killed on the deadly Pacific Highway stretch.

A staggering 24 lives have been lost between Coffs Harbour and Macksville since 2005, while a further 288 crash victims have been maimed or injured.

In a jarring irony in September, firefighters left the funeral of a colleague killed on the horror road to respond to another serious highway crash.

The call-out to an overturned tip truck at Hungry Head, happened as friends, family and emergency workers gathered to remember the life of Nambucca Heads firefighter Matthew Vinen.

Mr Vinen, a 38-year-old accountant with the Bellingen Shire Council, died in a Pacific Highway accident near Valla just days earlier.

“It was just one of those tragic coincidences, where we were notified midway through the church service that the accident had happened on a spot on the highway close to where Matthew was killed,” Mid North Coast NSW Fire Brigade Superintendent David Gray told The Advocate.

“In the emergency services the work never stops; the call can come at anytime.

“It just goes to show that's the nature of the emergency services, we serve to protect the community and sometimes our own lose their lives in tragic accidents,” he said.

The truck accident they responded too happened just south of a moving roadside chrome memorial, honouring a 37-year-old interstate truck driver who lost his life in March last year.

In September, the Roads and Traffic Authority revealed the highway road toll between Macksville and Maclean stood at 55 lives dating back to just 2005.

However, in the two months since, the figures have now risen above 60.

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