The charred remains of a semi trailer from which the driver was pulled to safety as it burned following a two truck crash on the Bruce Highway, 37km south of Miriam Vale, on August 5. Picture: Rodney Stevens
The charred remains of a semi trailer from which the driver was pulled to safety as it burned following a two truck crash on the Bruce Highway, 37km south of Miriam Vale, on August 5. Picture: Rodney Stevens

’Everything was burning’: Hero truckie pulls driver from rig

A HERO truck driver, who pulled a fellow truckie, who was alight, free from his burning rig after an horrific crash on the Bruce Highway south of Miriam Vale says he would do it again tomorrow "cause it's just what you do."

The veteran truckie, who asked not to be identified, said he was driving southbound about 11.15pm when he saw an ominous glow ahead of him through thick fog and smoke.

Flickering flames masked by smoke and fog told the story of the devastation, about 37km south of Miriam Vale at Granite Creek.

Two trucks, one headed northbound and the other southbound, had collided, with the northbound semi crashing into the back of a refrigerated B-double, before both prime movers involved in the initial incident burst into flames.

One man, 42, is in a critical condition and the second man, 54, is in a serious condition. Both have been airlifted to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital. 

The scene that confronted the hero truck driver about 11.20pm in the first crash at Granite Creek. This was taken moments before he pulled a man free from the wreckage of his burning rig.
The scene that confronted the hero truck driver about 11.20pm in the first crash at Granite Creek. This was taken moments before he pulled a man free from the wreckage of his burning rig.

 

"The fog was that thick you could hardly see a thing," the driver said.

"There were a few trucks on the road and then I came upon the crash and straight away I knew it was serious.

"Through the fog I could see the flames, and I thought those poor buggers."

The northbound truck sat burning in its traffic lane, while the southbound semi had careered down an embankment and was well alight in roadside grass.

A small group of initially shocked drivers quickly sprung into action to try to save their colleagues.

 

A refrigerated B-double was hit from behind after two trucks collided and burst into flames on the Bruce Highway, 37km south of Miriam Vale, on August 5. Picture: Rodney Stevens
A refrigerated B-double was hit from behind after two trucks collided and burst into flames on the Bruce Highway, 37km south of Miriam Vale, on August 5. Picture: Rodney Stevens

 

"When I got here everything was burning, the trucks were burning but people didn't want to go too close," the driver said.

"Me and a few other drivers went down there and got him out of the cab and the other driver crawled out of his truck but he was burning, he was alight.

"We dragged him around and back up through to the top of the road and went to help the other bloke, who was still burning but we managed to put him out.

"Then the ambulances and police and fireys arrived and they took over.

"That was after about half an hour or so, I can't really tell how long it was, I wasn't worried about what time it was."

The driver said he didn't know either of his colleagues, but the man in the Followmont transport semi was "in a very bad way".

 

Claytons towing use an excavator to clear the charred remains of a semi trailer sitting on the Bruce Highway, 37km south of Miriam Vale, after a two truck crash on August 5, at 11.15pm. Picture Rodney Stevens
Claytons towing use an excavator to clear the charred remains of a semi trailer sitting on the Bruce Highway, 37km south of Miriam Vale, after a two truck crash on August 5, at 11.15pm. Picture Rodney Stevens

 

From the time of the horror crash until 11am, more than 20 trucks sat motionless near the scene, until Clayton's Towing had cleared the road sufficiently to move some of the congestion.

Another truck driver said he tried to catch some sleep in his cab.

"I was in the back in the cab trying to sleep because I knew we'd be here for quite a while," he said.

"Then about 7am when it was really foggy I heard the noise of the other crash."

About 2km north of the first incident, a Woolworths semi trailer and another semi carrying tonnes of magnesium oxide bags collided in thick fog and smoke from nearby fires.

Within eight hours of the first smash, two drivers were again badly hurt, and countless dollars of damage littered the lonely stretch of the Bruce Highway.

 

A Claytons towing truck driver prepares to hitch up the wreckage of a truck crash about 35km south of Miriam Vale on the Bruce Highway on August 6. Picture: Rodney Stevens
A Claytons towing truck driver prepares to hitch up the wreckage of a truck crash about 35km south of Miriam Vale on the Bruce Highway on August 6. Picture: Rodney Stevens

 

So serious were both crashes that Clayton's Towing sent 12 crews to respond, with huge tow trucks capable of moving up to 50 tonnes, plus excavators to clear the wreckage.

A few kilometres from both incidents, "caution smoke" signs on the roadside painted a picture of what conditions were like.

When the highway reopened to clear the trucks at 2.10pm, some 15 hours after the crash, there were more than 100 trucks lining the road waiting to move.

Traffic had been diverted all morning at Miriam Vale toward Agnes Water, then south to Bundaberg.

After 10 hours reflecting on the incident, the hero driver said he wouldn't hesitate to race to another drivers aid, in a similar fiery crash situation tomorrow.

"They both would have been dead if it wasn't for us blokes who went and helped them," he said.

"The emergency services were great and got here quickly, but those poor blokes didn't have any time.

"Everything was on fire and they just would have burned.

"I'd definitely do it again, cause it's just what you do."



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