Accident inquest: The scene of the horrific triple fatality on the Bruce Highway south of Gympie, September 4, 2008.
Accident inquest: The scene of the horrific triple fatality on the Bruce Highway south of Gympie, September 4, 2008. Craig Warhurst

Inquest focus on triple fatality

DAY eleven of the inquest into six deaths in three separate crashes on a section of the Bruce Highway south of Gympie pieced together the horrific collision that killed Mark Hamilton, Cory Whitmore, Rachel Purdy and her unborn baby on September 4, 2008.

Accident investigator Senior Constable Stephen Knight from the Forensic Crash Unit at Coolum was the only witness to take the stand yesterday, speaking at length about the complex sequence of events underlying the crash.

He said a significant amount of water on the road, combined with constant showers to heavy downfalls of rain, was likely to have caused driver Mark Hamilton to lose control of his pantec truck and drift sideways into oncoming traffic.

Snr Const Knight said seven vehicle impacts that followed and one fatal explosion were the deadly elements of the five-vehicle, three-fatality crash.

Accident investigation officer Senior Constable Stephen Knight said the wreckage from the crash was within a 40 metre radius on the Bruce Highway in between the south and north entrances to Carlson Road.

He said three vehicles were heading south: a four-wheel-drive towing a boat was in front of the pantec truck, which was followed by a fully loaded logging truck.

He said Miss Purdy and her passenger Cory Whitmore were in a Ford Falcon, the second in a line of three vehicles heading north. The couple were behind a car being driven by Daphne Conis, 70, who felt something hit the rear of her Suzuki Swift.

Behind the Ford was a prime mover pulling a B-double carrying steel mill rollers.

A witness, who had been driving the four-wheel-drive in front of the pantec, said when he came over the crest and passed Carlson Road (north) he looked in the rear vision mirror and the truck was 50 yards behind him. Snr Const Knight said information provided by witnesses put their speed somewhere between 90 and 100kmh.

“(The witness) said he caught up to traffic coming down the hill and applied the brakes hard...he looked in the rear vision mirror and saw the pantec truck start to slide sideways,” he said.

“In my mind, Miss Purdy had no time to react...the impact would have been within two seconds...the Ford was wedged underneath (the pantec and) the B-double following hit the rear end of the Ford and pushed it further underneath...the passenger side of the truck.”

Snr Const Knight said the pantec was in the process of spinning clockwise when it hit the Ford and then collided with the B-double. The inquest continues today.

Gympie Times


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