THE Dumbalk driver of an unladen, timber semi-trailer involved in a serious accident on the South Gippsland Highway at Korumburra last Saturday has been labelled a hero after taking evasive action which almost certainly saved the lives of three, if not four people.
The collision happened at about 1.30pm on the notorious ‘Coal Creek bends’, the scene of another bad accident only 12 days earlier.
Local truck driver Tony Roy received scratches and bruises to his face in the incident and was taken to hospital as a precaution.
“I’ve been knocked around a fair bit but I can’t believe I didn’t get a broken bone out of it,” said the relieved driver this week.
The three passengers in the silver Ford Falcon, two adults, a male and female, and a male child, also emerged relatively unscathed, but the boy was ferried to Dandenong hospital by road ambulance with trauma from the seatbelt.
After the incident was posted on Facebook, to alert drivers of the reason for the closure of the highway, the driver offered his own explanation about what had occurred.
“I can give you all the facts so the gossip mongers can shut up. I’m the driver of the truck in the accident and can tell you all I was 10km/15km below the 80km speed limit knowing that the road would be slippery,” Tony Roy said.
“So instead of ploughing straight into the car skidding into my lane I took evasive action and saved three lives.”
He has been lauded on Facebook for his efforts:
• Glad to see you are ok Tony you did save three lives. I was the first one at the scene. I was talking to you just after it happened to make sure you were ok. I stayed as long as I could. I had my dog in the ute. Well done to you, great evasion action. When I came around that bend and what was in front of me, I was expecting the worst but because of your great driving, you saved those three lives. Well done to you mate.”
• People are so quick to judge and blame truck drivers. Being professional drivers most are much safer drivers than car drivers. Courtesy and common sense in all drivers would avoid so many accidents.
• Tony you have done an amazing job. 100% support from your employers mate!!!
• Well done you are a professional at your job. Three lives saved, well four, yours also
“Thanks for all your support. I’ve got a couple of bruises and scratches and maybe a black eye, a bit shaken but otherwise ok. I’ll be back out there doing my best thing as soon as. Once again thanks for your support,” said Tony in response.
He also shed some light on the probable cause and echoed many local concerns that this section of the South Gippsland Highway remains unsafe.
“The road was slippery after the light shower of rain. If you weren’t there to see it happen you don’t have the knowledge to comment. This particular corner has been flagged as crap for some time but our bureaucratic clowns think widening a freeway to stop gridlock is more important than country roads that are well past it and need major repair.”
There were plenty of other notes of concern about the Coal Creek bends.
“It’s exactly what happened to us last weekend in the same spot! Luckily my husband was also taking it easy and managed to avoid ploughing straight into the car skidding into our lane. When he saw these photos he could tell exactly what you must have done to avoid going straight into the car. Well done on driving so carefully and taking action to avoid what could have been much worse. It must have been extremely scary for you,” was one of the comments posted on the Sentinel-Times Facebook page.
Mr Roy said feared the worst when the accident happened and had been warmed by the support he has received on Facebook, with messages coming back from as far afield as County Clare in Ireland.
‘Driver not at fault’
Police at the scene completely corroborated the truck driver’s account of what happened.
Pointing to a spot on the east-bound lane of the highway, a spokesperson for the police said “this is where the car has crossed over and collided with the truck”.
He said police were continuing to investigate the incident but he said the road was wet after a recent shower, that the driver of the west-bound car carrying two passengers had lost control and slid into the path of the semi-trailer.
“The truck driver appears to have been going at a reduced speed and has taken evasive action to minimise the impact,” said police.
The highway was blocked for about five hours while the initial emergency response was carried out and then during the clean-up phase after heavy haulage equipment arrived and ‘kitty litter’ was spread to soak up oil and fuel spilt at the scene.
The passenger car was a write-off and the truck extensively damaged after it reportedly ‘jack-knifed’ and collided front and back with the Armco barriers. The truck is owned by a local contracting firm.