Accident on Pacific Highway near Urunga.
Accident on Pacific Highway near Urunga. Frank Redward

Family expresses relief

LINDSAY and Grace Heath came terribly close to joining the growing road toll for the Pacific Highway south of Urunga.

As the Brisbane brother and sister recover from their extensive injuries received in Friday night’s smash, their family is thankful they survived their dreadful ordeal but remain angry the highway still hasn’t been fixed.

Peter Heath said his children hadn’t been aware of the blackspot, but they took regular breaks on their trip to Sydney, which of course they never completed.

“Their last stop was at Coffs Harbour for a fatigue break and we’d been checking on them during their journey,” Peter said.

“I’ve travelled that stretch of road previously. A major road like that should be divided road.”

Peter said his family would be forever grateful to the carload of Coffs Harbour Surf Club members who stopped at the accident scene to render first aid to his children. The rescuers were re-united with the siblings at Coffs Harbour hospital yesterday afternoon.

Lindsay Heath, a 20-year-old apprentice fitter machinist, was driving his Ford Mondeo south with his sister, Grace, 18, who has just finished high school.

A northbound Jeep collided with their vehicle about 5km south of Urunga near the Ballards Road intersection at 7pm on Friday.

Lindsay has told his family he can only remember a “big dark lump of car” in front of him after the four-wheel-drive had apparently lost control on a corner and slammed into them.

The impact ruptured the four-wheel-drive’s fuel tank, covering the Heath children in petrol.

Lindsay was trapped for more than an hour and received a compound fracture to his left leg, a broken left arm, chemical burns and facial injuries.

Grace, meanwhile, sustained two broken hands and head injuries and she has since been discharged.

“We’ve all been pretty stressed out,” Peter said.

Their Sydney-based uncle, Andrew Heath, who has visited his niece and nephew in hospital, said it had been an upsetting time for the family.

“It’s tested them, undoubtedly, but they’re happy that they’re alive. They’re lucky to be alive and I know young Lindsay is a pretty careful driver,” Andrew said.

“I know that blackspot and if you have that sort of accident rate in industry it would be under complete review. Three accidents in a week is a bit over the top.

“Ultimately they need a dual carriageway, but it’s not going to happen overnight. In the short-term you need lower speed limits and perhaps steel cable dividers.”

A man critically injured in the smash appeared to be improving.

The 54-year-old, from Gulmarrad near Maclean, had to be cut from his Jeep and then rushed to Coffs Harbour Health Campus with serious head injuries. He was later transferred to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital where his condition yesterday afternoon was listed as serious but stable.

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