Truck disappears into Richmond River after collision at Wardell
By EMMA O'NEILL firstname.lastname@example.org A FREIGHT truck sank into the Richmond River near Wardell after it collided with another truck early on Tuesday morning.
The Wardell incident is the fifth truck crash in nine weeks on the Pacific Highway. The accident happened about 2km south of the Wardell bridge about 3.40am, when a truck travelling north is believed to have crossed on to the wrong side of the road and sideswiped a B-double truck travelling south. The 26-year-old Queensland driver was taken to Lismore Base Hospital with severe leg injuries.
The driver of the B-double, a 46-year-old Queensland man, swerved off the roadway and into the Richmond River. The driver managed to escape from his cabin before the vehicle sank. He was taken to Ballina Hospital with minor injuries.
Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew chief Roger Fry said the helicopter was about to take off about 4am, but did not attend the scene after hearing neither driver was trapped.
Australian Trucking Association chief executive Stuart St Claire said the recent string of truck crashes on the Pacific Highway showed the need to have the whole road upgraded to dual carriageway.
"It's vital the Pacific Highway be upgraded to a dual carriageway as soon as possible," he said.
"While the set date by the RTA for completion is 2016, let's hope they hurry up."
The proposed upgrade bypasses the site of yesterday morning's crash.
A spokesman for NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal said the Minister had been lobbying the Federal Government for more funding to upgrade the highway.
Mr Roozendaal recognised the importance of upgrading the highway quickly to ensure the safety of truck drivers and everyday users of the road, the spokesman said.
Goonellabah fire station commander Ian Grimwood said officers arrived on the scene about 4.30am and placed booms around the submerged vehicle to contain spilt diesel.