Sad farewell: More than 400 mourners attended the funeral of Grafton man Neil Pearce on Saturday. He died when his fuel tanker overturned on the Bruxner Highway south of Lismore last week.
Sad farewell: More than 400 mourners attended the funeral of Grafton man Neil Pearce on Saturday. He died when his fuel tanker overturned on the Bruxner Highway south of Lismore last week. Adam Hourigan

Family search for answers to crash

NEIL PEARCE'S family remains shocked and confused over the Grafton man's death on the Bruxner Highway, 7km south of Lismore, last week.

The father of three, who was reportedly a stickler for safety in his job as a fuel tanker driver, was given a dignified send-off at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Grafton on Saturday.

Many in the Grafton truck driving fraternity gathered to pay their respects at the funeral, which was attended by about 400 people.

Mr Pearce's south-bound tanker flipped on to its side after it failed to negotiate a right-hand bend on the highway about 9.30pm last Monday.

The crash caused about 15,000 litres of diesel and unleaded fuel to spill, sparking a major clean-up operation.

As Mr Pearce's siblings deal with the shock of his death, they say questions remain unanswered about how their brother, an experienced driver known for his attention to detail on truck safety matters, could have crashed the way he did.

Three of Mr Pearce's six siblings – Cathy Smethurst, Phil Pearce and Robert Pearce – said a witness had told police that Mr Pearce's tanker had ‘jumped to the left and right' before flipping on to its side.

They said it was a blessing their brother was killed instantly and was spared any long-term pain.

“Why did the back of the trailer play up? It just doesn't add up,” said Phil, who lives in Grafton.

The family said the RTA was doing a thorough inspection of the wrecked tanker, which included a 2007 model truck and a 2008 model trailer.

“BP are taking this very seriously – they are doing their own investigations and they have been great to the family,” Robert said.

“Neil was so particular with the safety of his vehicle ... he was pedantic – he'd get up other people about safety.”

Mr Pearce started work at Cromack and Tranter in 1981 at the age of 16 as a general hand and forklift driver.

Graeme Cromack, who delivered the eulogy on Saturday, said Mr Pearce taught himself how to drive prime movers and trailers in the Cromack and Tranter yard for the purpose of washing the vehicles.

He said there was no stopping the young Neil ‘until he passed his driving test for a semi-trailer'.

Mr Pearce is survived by his three children, Ben, 19, Simon, 17, and Rachel, 10.

He separated from his wife, Sue, several years ago, but she remains in contact with the Pearce family.



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