Call for help breaks down
By CRAIG McTEAR
ALONE and afraid in the dark, Cherie Gunther knew the NRMA would come to her rescue.
But the Toormina 21-year-old was shocked to discover the organisation which prides itself on helping motorists in sticky situations was leaving her stranded.
Cherie's nightmare on Tuesday night began when she hit something on the highway just north of Woolgoolga on her way home from the Gold Coast.
"I saw something small in front of the car a second before I hit it. It must have been an animal," Cherie said.
"I could smell the exhaust and knew something wasn't right. My petrol tank had been half full, but when I looked down, it was empty."
Cherie decided to keep driving in the hope she'd make it home, but her Holden Commodore Vacationer sedan only made it as far as the Park Beach Plaza car park, where it came to an abrupt halt at 9.45pm.
She was anxious being on her own in the deserted car park at that time of night, but was glad her mother-in-law had bought her an NRMA roadside assistance package for just such an emergency.
"I do a lot of driving and I know if something happens, I've always got the NRMA there," she said.
She dialled the hotline and explained to the operator what had happened.
Cherie was horrified when the woman said she couldn't send a tow truck because she wasn't insured with NRMA Insurance.
Cherie was told if she had been with NRMA Insurance, the matter would have gone through the insurance hotline and a tow truck would have been dispatched.
"A leaking fuel line is a mechanical problem in my view," Cherie said.
"I expected I'd be able to give the NRMA a call and they'd come and help. Perhaps I should have simply told them my car had broken down, and they would have come."
An NRMA Motoring and Services spokeswoman said yesterday Cherie had been advised a tow truck could be sent to her, but she would have to pay for it because it was an accident, not a breakdown.