Calls to fix deadly highway
WARRELL Creek resident Mark Kirkman, the first on the scene of yesterday’s fatal crash, has made an emotional plea to the new premier to fast track planned Pacific Highway upgrades.
“Like everyone else is saying, I say ‘premier fix the highway!’... he no doubt has this ringing in his ears by now,” Mr Kirkman said.
The latest accident claimed the life of a Far North Coast man after his car crashed head-on into a B-double laden with hazardous chemicals, 6km south of Macksville, just before 4am.
The truck exploded into an inferno, directly outside Mr Kirkman’s home.
“I heard the loud screech of brakes and then the big bang. By the time I got up the fire had started, flames were reaching roughly 30 feet high,” said Mr Kirkman.
NSW Fire and Rescue duty commander Tony Lenthall said firefighters worked in extreme conditions to battle the flames.
“It was a very intense fire, crews did an excellent job in rendering the site safe,” he said.
Foam was used to douse the flames, stopping drums of degreaser on the truck from igniting.
Macksville Police acting inspector Ann Joy said it’s thought the south-bound sedan overtook a semi-trailer and crashed head-on into the oncoming B-double.
It happened on a straight stretch of road, marked with double unbroken lines in an 80kmh zone.
“It appears after the initial investigation conducted by crash investigation that the potential cause of the accident was most likely speed and the manner of driving of the offending vehicle,” Ms Joy said.
After the fire, the charred wreckage of the sedan was barely recognisable.
The B-double driver suffered only minor injuries and was taken to Macksville Hospital.
“He was shaken, traumatised by the situation but otherwise okay, and also the truck driver travelling south who had the near miss was also examined,” Ambulance Inspector Mick Mair said.
The Pacific Highway was blocked for almost 11 hours and was reopened yesterday afternoon.
Traffic was diverted via Upper Warrell Creek Rd throughout the day, while police escorted trucks past the crash scene for an hour at 10am.
The accident happened within 200 metres of the scene of a double fatality, which claimed the lives of two elderly sisters on Wednesday, February 16.
For Premier Barry O’Farrell, it’s the second fatality on the Coffs Coast in his one-week reign.
Last Tuesday as he was being sworn in as premier, a 70-year-old woman was killed south of Urunga on another notorious single-lane section.
It is now 22 years since a coroner pushed for the road to be upgraded to a dual carriageway after 56 people were killed in two separate bus crashes on the highway in 1989.
Mr Kirkman said local residents had called for the Warrell Creek to Urunga bypass since the 1960s.
He hopes a change of government will help the State Government to fast track dual carriageway.