Tragic accident rocks community
WOOLGOOLGA Fire Station crews are back on deck but their lives will never quite be the same.
The shell-shocked troops were stood down after attending Wednesday night's smash at Woolgoolga which killed Bree Atkins, the teenage daughter of their deputy captain, Darrin Atkins. He was not at the crash scene.
The firefighters continue to be counselled over the tragedy but they're returning to their posts because they know their town needs them.
“I'd like to thank the support shown to us by the members of the public and other emergency services,” said an emotional Woolgoolga Fire Station commander Ray Webb.
“The big thing we really have to push is the fact we may be firefighters but we're only human.
“Being a small community, something like this has a big impact not only on us but the whole community but no matter what happens, we have a job to do.”
Relief firefighters from the Coffs Coast were dispatched to Woolgoolga to man the station when the local contingent was stood down.
The NSW Fire Brigades senior chaplain, Lindsay Smith, and a team of counsellors was last night de-briefing the Woolgoolga brigade, their wives and children and other emergency services.
That counselling unit was at the Nambucca Heads Fire Station on Thursday night following the death of one of their own, Matthew Vinen, in the horror Valla smash.
“The support we've had from Major Steve Metcher at the Salvation Army and the Fire Brigades' critical incident de-briefing team has been excellent,” Mr Webb said.
“We've had (member for Coffs Harbour) Andrew Fraser and the mayor (Cr Keith Rhoades) ring up and we've had members of the public walk into the station.
“We're here to do a service and we're going to take every opportunity to promote safety.”
Police continue their inquiries into the cause of the Woolgoolga smash.
Ms Atkins was thrown from her Toyota Corolla when it slammed head-on into a tow truck on the Pacific Highway near Bosworth Road at 9.15pm.
Police said she veered to the wrong side of the road into the path of the oncoming truck, driven by a Bulahdelah man, 49.
He sustained a dislocated collarbone but his two passengers were not injured.