Deathtrap take another life
By HELEN JACK
ONE of the worst traffic accident black spots between Sydney and Brisbane claimed another life yesterday.
A 24-year-old interstate truck driver, of Bellbird Park in Brisbane, died when the B-double he was driving crashed on the Pacific Highway at the notorious Sandy Flat at Tintenbar.
The truck was travelling north when it tipped over rounding the bend at Sandy Flat, sliding 100 metres along the roadway, crossing into the oncoming lane and then over an embankment, coming to rest in Sandy Flat Creek.
The accident happened at 4.10am, with emergency services on the scene within half-an-hour, according to nearby residents.
At first the driver could not be located and it was believed he had been taken to hospital by an ambulance seen leaving the scene.
But later it was revealed by police that another truck driver, stopped in a line of traffic at the scene, fell ill and had requested to be taken to hospital.
Police and emergency services personnel began a search for the driver fearing he was under the truck.
It was nearly eight hours later the man's body was found lying in the creek beneath the truck's cabin. A crane lifted the cabin of the truck free of wreckage and a front-end-loader, unable to lift the first trailer section of the B-double, was forced to dig through the wall of the truck into the ground below.
Traffic was reduced to a crawl along the highway until heavy moving equipment was put in place at 10am to remove the truck cabin, at which point traffic came to a standstill.
Trucks and other vehicles were backed up for one kilometre each side of the accident. Northbound traffic was diverted at Ballina into North Creek Road and then on to the Coast Road; while southbound traffic was diverted through the village of Tintenbar.
Crews from the NSW Rural Fire Brigade, Ballina SES, Ballina police, the crash investigation unit and the NSW Fire Brigade Hazmat team from Goonellabah were on the scene most of the morning.
The refrigerated truck was fully-laden with a mix of smallgoods and frozen vegetables, which were transferred to another truck.
Police have confirmed there was no passenger in the%vehicle at the time of the accident.
Traffic flow was still at a crawl yesterday evening, reduced to one lane, while the remainder of the wreckage was cleared.
Ballina police crash investigation unit is continuing its inquiries into the cause of the accident.
It has also asked witnesses to call on 6681 8618.