Grass cutter?s close shave
By DAVID MOASE
ONE day working on the Pacific Highway last week was enough for Gerrit Ter Hedde.
Cutting grass beside the highway last Thursday, Mr Ter Hedde spent his first day on the job with vehicles racing within metres of his tractor.
Then, towards the end of the day, he narrowly escaped injury or worse as a car and truck collided where he was working.
As the car slammed into the guard rail right in front of him, Mr Ter Hedde had no doubt what he had to do next.
"I rang the boss straight way to tell him I wouldn't do the work for any money," he said.
"I didn't even go to get my money for the day's work.
"It didn't matter that it was my first day doing the job, it was not worth the risk."
The accident was featured on page one of last Saturday's Coffs Coast Advocate, with the P-plate driver of the car, Robert Lock, counting his lucky stars that he was not hurt.
Mr Lock said he tried to stop when he saw Mr Ter Hedde's grass cutter taking up part of the road, and was hit from behind by a truck.
Yesterday, Mr Ter Hedde, 33, said the grass cutter was only just protruding onto the road and that there were three signs warning that the vehicle was ahead.
"There were flashing lights on the tractor, too," he said.
"It was at the end of the day and I had just picked up one of the signs when I heard a the screech of a car trying to stop and a crash.
"I used to be in the army and noise of the crash was just like the sound of a cannon firing.
"The car went where I had been standing six to 10 seconds before and into the guard rail.
"I think I was the one who really escaped death."
Mr Ter Hedde said he was left feeling very shaken by the accident and after quitting the job and telling police what he had seen, was happy to head for the safety of home.
Yesterday, the Brisbane Broncos fan was working in a new job, doing gardening in the safety and quiet of West Bomabee.
He was pleased to be well away from the dangers of the Pacific Highway and happy to accept any risks that may have been in the garden.
"I'd much rather be bitten by a spider than hit by a truck," he said.
nDo you have a Pacific Highway horror story? Have you diced with death driving to and from home?
The Coffs Coast Advocate is going to run regular accounts of people's experiences on the Pacific Highway.
Send your story to the Coffs Coast Advocate, email firstname.lastname@example.org, fax 6651 4492 or 53 Moonee Street, Coffs Harbour.