Search for hero truckie who saved lives on Bruce Hwy
IT WAS hell on the highway for Jean-Pierre Lebret.
The delivery driver's trip from Kawana to Maryborough on Thursday is one that he will never forget.
It was about 8.30am in the morning and Mr Lebret was transporting a van full of chocolate and lollies to the next depot along the Bruce Highway near Yandina when he caught a whiff of smoke.
Instinctively, he checked the gauges on the delivery van but saw nothing of concern, and decided it must have been back-burning in the area.
Then he saw smoke coming from the bonnet and realised he needed to pull over.
After navigating through traffic and waiting for a safe spot, Mr Lebret pulled the van to the side of the road.
And it was just in time because the small grey puff coming from the hood of his car had billowed into a thick, black stream of smoke.
Mr Lebret said as he pulled over he noticed the floor beneath him was melting.
"I didn't feel anything until I saw it, then I jumped out of the van," he said.
"I got on the phone and as I did, a massive B-double truck pulled out behind me."
It's the driver of the truck that Mr Lebret now wants to thank in person for his heroic actions.
"He pulled his truck across both lanes of the highway so no other vehicles could pass - he was protecting the other motorists on the road.
As traffic backed up, Mr Lebret and the truck driver tried to extinguish the smoke and flames.
"All of a sudden we heard a big bang, the van exploded," Mr Lebret said.
He and the truck driver began to choke from inhalation and could no longer bear the heat.
Emergency services arrived on scene and the fire was extinguished.
Mr Lebret said he regretted not asking for the truck driver's name or contact details.
"I wish I could thank him personally, he just took control and knew exactly what to do when I didn't," he said.
"It goes to show how good people are. He was such a massive help.
"I was panicking, I had a million things on my mind but the truck driver didn't need to think twice."
Mr Lebret said he was grateful he would be home to spend Christmas with his family - his wife Marilyse, children, Carly and Damien and granddaughter, Tahlia.
"You don't really think about the circumstances until you have had time to reflect," he said.
"Everyone that helped, the police, firefighters and ambulance, and the truck driver, I am very grateful."