Rescuers were daunted by the challenge of rescuing the driver from the wrecked B-double.
Rescuers were daunted by the challenge of rescuing the driver from the wrecked B-double.

Semi driver's lucky escape

By EMMA O'NEILL

THE site of a semi trailer crash on the Pacific Highway yesterday may be popular with fishermen this weekend.

The truck was carrying pallets of beer bottles, many of which ended up in the adjacent Richmond River.

The driver escaped serious injury in the accident which happened at 2.20am just south of Wardell.

The truck was travelling south when the driver veered to the centre of the road and side swiped a truck travelling in the opposite direction. He lost control and the trailer flipped on its side before partly sliding into the river after travelling 40 metres along the riverbank.

The cabin of the vehicle did not enter the water, but the driver was trapped inside, Woodburn SES controller, Jim McCormack said

The cabin door had been crushed to a height of half a metre. The man was found lying under the semi's seats.

Mr McCormack said initially he was overwhelmed by the task of rescuing the driver from a crushed truck cabin on a sloping riverbank.

"He was conscious and we talked him through what we were going to do to get him out," Mr McCormack said. The driver was lucky trees had prevented the cabin from entering the water.

"He should buy every lottery ticket in Australia." The crash site was not at a noted blackspot, police said.

Police, ambulance and SES crews combined their efforts to free the driver.

The Westpac Lifesaver helicopter landed on the highway at approximately 3.15am and the man was airlifted to a helipad in Goonellabah because fog made landing at Lismore Base Hospital impossible. He suffered minor injuries and was released from hospital yesterday. The Pacific Highway was reduced to one lane soon after the crash, allowing the RTA to clean up debris and spread sand to absorb spilt diesel.

A crane also worked through the night to lift the truck from the river.

Inspector Chris Fabri, Northern Rivers NSW fire brigades' duty commander, said absorbent booms were put in place around the crash site to absorb the fuel and contain the spill.



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