Barely a scratch
THREE people miraculously survived a spectacular crash between a semi-trailer and ute on the Bruce Highway, 50km north of Rockhampton yesterday.
Authorities said all three were in a satisfactory condition late yesterday, having only suffered minor injuries when the semitrailer landed on top of and crushed the ute after a high-speed collision at about 8am.
A 37-year-old truck driver from Brisbane, a 49-year-old West Australian man who was driving the ute and his Northern NSW male passenger, in his 20s, were taken to Rockhampton Hospital as a precaution.
Rockhampton police Acting Inspector John Hamrey said the two people in the ute were lucky to escape. Their vehicle landed in a two-metre ditch which protected them from the full force and weight of the semi-trailer.
Acting Inspector Hamrey said it was believed the driver of the semi-trailer lost control of the vehicle after trying to pass the ute.
The ute, which had a camper unit in its back tray, was too big a vehicle for the semitrailer to overtake.
"He realised he did not have enough power to get past the vehicle and was braking to come back behind the ute,'' Acting Inspector Hamrey said.
"The trailer, which had seven vehicles on board, hit the verge on the side of the road and the driver lost control.
"He then skidded across the road (about 40m) before ending up on the top of the ute.
"What saved them (the ute driver and his passenger) was the (ditch) which meant they did not bear the full impact of the trailer.''
Both vehicles were travelling south at the time.
Emergency services cordoned off the surrounding area for about an hour after the collision, amid fears of an explosion from leaking fuel tanks.
Traffic headed both ways was banked up at least one kilometre with delays up to one hour.
The delays were an inconvenience to Russell and Karen Japp from Port Macquarie who, with their three children, were on their way to Cairns for Christmas.
"It's not been too bad on the kids, but next time we will definitely fly,'' Mrs Japp said.
A 50-tonne crane was brought in from Rockhampton to help clear the scene.
Having re-opened the road police closed it again for a further hour and a half while the cleanup was completed. During this time about 50 motorists detoured via a track running beside a nearby rail line.
Queensland Fire and Rescue service, North Rockhampton, Station Officer Trevor Sorenson said the crash served as a timely reminder for Central Queensland motorists to take care on the region's roads.
"This is a bad time of the year heading into Christmas,'' Station Officer Sorenson said.
"There have all ready been fatalities and serious injuries on our roads.
"We ask all road users to take extra care and drive carefully.''
Police investigations into the crash are continuing.