Crash blocks highway for two hours
By Will Jackson
THE driver of a black Holden Astra which collided with a semi-trailer on the Pacific Highway near Ballina yesterday morning was lucky to survive the accident.
The 32-year-old was in the northbound overtaking lane passing another car about 10km south of Ballina when his vehicle drifted to the wrong side of the road and into the side of the truck's trailer.
The accident happened about 9.30am, blocking the highway for about two hours.
The driver of the car the Astra was overtaking said the vehicle spun about six times before coming to rest about 40 metres down the road.
"There was a pretty big bang and then there were bits and pieces flying everywhere," he said. "I'm surprised he lived. He's a lucky lad."
The Astra driver, from Tweed Heads South, was trapped in the vehicle for about 45 minutes before emergency services officers used the 'jaws of life' to cut him free.
He was taken to Lismore Base Hospital by the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter in a serious but stable condition after suffering a large cut to his right leg and bruising.
Const Dave Alley, of Ballina police, said it appeared the main impact was on the right side of the Astra.
If the accident had been head-on, the driver almost certainly would not have survived, he said.
The truck's driver, Maurice Donnelly, of Murwillumbah, was on his way to Sydney when the accident happened.
He said it was lucky the Astra didn't go under the truck. "I saw him overtake the other car and then he just kept coming," he said.
"I heard the bang, saw some sparks and smoke, and then I saw him in the rearview mirror spinning behind me. "It was a good thing there were no cars behind me."
Mr Donnelly said yesterday's accident was his first in 20 years of driving trucks.