Woman dies in smash
BRUCE Highway volunteer road safety campaigner Brendan Blatchly says the weekend’s fatal crash at Chatsworth has made him more determined than ever to achieve accelerated action on the Cooroy-to-Curra by-pass.
“I will make a personal guarantee to you and the residents of Gympie, we will get action,” he said yesterday afternoon.
Mr Blatchly, a truck driver who estimates he spends up to three quarters of his life driving the highway, gathered 800 signatures, almost single-handedly, on his petition to improve safety at the Matilda intersection, south of Gympie, following a smash there which claimed the life of a nearby resident, aged 19.
Mayor Ron Dyne took Mr Blatchly’s petition, which he prepared in association with fellow truck driver and road safety blogger Michael Hogg, to Canberra recently, for a meeting with officials from the department of federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.
The petition called for an urgent redesign for the intersection.
However, residents yesterday attributed Saturday’s fatality to factors other than the highway or its nearby intersection with Horton Road.
Overcrowding of the highway, making it less “forgiving” in the event of driver error, appeared to be the major likely contributing factor, according to nearby residents.
Most said the intersection itself, now with a right-hand turning lane off the highway, was a big improvement but traffic volumes and speeds continued to make the area “pretty scary.”
The female driver of a late model sedan died on Saturday afternoon, about 4pm, when her vehicle collided head-on with a heavily-laden semi-trailer, just to Gympie’s north near the Horton Road intersection.
Police last night were still not releasing full details of the crash and the dead woman’s name had not been released, pending permission from her family.
However, witnesses said it appeared the sedan was on the wrong side of the road when the crash occurred.
The truck then appears to have crashed off the side of the road, impacting with an embankment.
Rescuers feared the worst when they found a baby seat in the car but a search showed that the dead woman was the only occupant.
The truck driver also appears to have been lucky to survive after chains securing a heavy mining dump truck onto his low-loader snapped, sending the load onto the top of his cabin.
Despite the heavy vehicle smashing into the back of his cabin, the driver escaped injury and was taken to hospital and treated for shock.
The highway was closed for several hours, causing difficulties for some local residents attempting to get home.
The dead woman, 29, was described by police as a resident of Clinton, near Gladstone.
Police said she died at the scene.
They said the highway had remained closed until about 9pm, while wreckage was cleared and a preliminary investigation carried out by the police Forensic Crash Unit.
Residents yesterday said the intersection had been greatly improved with the installation of a turning lane but driver error continued to be a danger on the now crowded and unforgiving highway to Gympie’s north, an area to be by-passed by a re-routed highway.