MOUNTAIN View sawmiller Rod Henson had to pinch himself on Saturday morning as his eight-tonne gravel truck, carrying about six tonnes of gravel, headed unmanned down a hill and kept going for about 750 metres before hitting and knocking down a concrete power pole in a paddock.
Mr Henson had to jump from the truck near the top of the hill when his brakes decided they would not co-operate with his desperately pumping foot.
The action happened about 6.45am on Saturday when Mr Henson was transporting gravel along a private road on his way to his sawmill on Orchard Road.
The clutch on the old International Acco (circa 1980s model) had given up the ghost during the journey, so Mr Henson called his son to help him push the truck with a front end loader – it was only a few hundred metres to his mill on Orchard Road.
Mr Henson said he turned off the motor while waiting for his son to arrive, but the old thing refused to start when they were ready to go.
He had also noticed the power steering fluid had leaked so steering was going to be tough.
Noting the brake pressure gauge still had 20 psi (pounds per square inch) on it, the Hensons decided to get moving with plan A regardless of a dead motor.
“We went over the crest and it started taking off, but when I applied the brake nothing happened,” Mr Henson said.
“I pumped it a few times, but realised I was going to have to jump out.”
Mr Henson said the truck was only going slow – about 5km/h – and when he jumped out it gathered momentum and was headed for Summerland Way.
“I was hoping it would run off the side of the road and go into the paddock and get bogged, but it just kept on going right down the centre of the road, through an open gate and onto Orchard Road,” he said.
“It was bloody scary.”
The truck finally left the road and headed into Mr Henson’s paddock north-east of the sawmill, breaking a fence on the way and bringing down a large high voltage power pole. The crash site was only a couple of hundred metres from Summerland Way.
“I’ve learnt never to take these things cheaply and to always use a chain or a cable,” he said.
Mr Henson has not been charged with any offence and was awaiting an interview with Grafton police.