A heavy vehicle driver had a miraculous escape following a serious incident that closed the southbound lanes of the Pacific Highway at Halfway Creek for several hours last week.
Shortly before 11pm on October 4, a B-Double travelling south collided heavily with the ‘Brifen’ wire on the eastern side of the highway and rolled near McPhillips Road, roughly 30km south of Grafton.
The prime mover crashed into a table drain while the two trailers remained stricken on their sides across the highway, blocking both lanes.
Emergency services including officers from the Coffs/Clarence Police District, NSW Ambulance, local fire crews and rescue units attended the scene, some travelling from as far as Urunga and Sawtell.
No other vehicles were involved in the incident.
Grafton Fire and Rescue 306 Station Deputy Captain Chris Rumpf said the heavy vehicle was perpendicular to the highway upon his arrival at the scene, and the driver was still trapped inside the cabin.
He sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics before he was transported to Coffs Harbour Hospital for observations.
“The driver was very lucky,” Deputy Captain Rumpf recalled.
“He was trapped initially by the steering wheel before rescue crews from Woolgoolga managed to free him.
“It didn’t take too long to get him out and luckily he wasn’t seriously injured.”
Contraflow diversions were put in place to minimise disruptions to motorists while the salvage operation commenced.
Deputy Captain Rumpf confirmed a hazmat tanker from Grafton also attended the scene, and the heavy vehicle involved in the incident was not transporting any hazardous materials.
Although the 500L diesel tank had been ruptured as a result of the collision, Deputy Captain Rumpf said a slight depression situated near the crash site was able to contain the estimated 50-100L lost from the prime mover.
“The truck was mainly carrying car parts, aerosols, solvents and oils, and radiator fluids,” he said.
“Once we identified the full extent of the freight, an excavator was brought in to rip the tops off both trailers which allowed crews to access all the goods.
“We had to empty the contents of the two trailers and separate the materials with compromised packages and put them into hazmat bins.”
Salvage crews were on site for close to 12 hours as the remaining freight and debrief was cleared.
Investigations into the cause of the incident are continuing.
Anyone with dashcam footage or information regarding the incident is being urged to contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.