Turn right lanes heading east and west line up on the fatal intersection
Turn right lanes heading east and west line up on the fatal intersection Jann Houley

'Russian Roulette' intersection death spurs calls for change

THERE was an eerie silence on Sunday morning at Peg Payne's Artillery Rd home - no sound of screeching tyres or crushed metal, just another weekend.

Then the wail of sirens punctured the calm and spelled out a devastating tragedy that would cause shock waves throughout the community.

"I didn't hear the crash," Mrs Payne said.

"I can't believe I didn't. Normally I do when something happens on that intersection."

What occurred was the unthinkable; a nine-year-old girl lost her life at the same intersection at Yeppoon and Artillery Rd that Mrs Payne has lived 1km away from for the past eight years.

 

Local resident Peg Payne lays flowers on the intersection where Zara Pakleppa lost her life in a two car collision
Local resident Peg Payne lays flowers on the intersection where Zara Pakleppa lost her life in a two car collision Jann Houley

One of the vehicles was travelling east on Yeppoon Rd when it entered the middle of the intersection.

It then collided with the side of another car which had been heading north on Artillery Rd.

"I could hear the screech of the police cars' tyres when they were doing the skid test that afternoon after they had cleared the scene," Mrs Payne said.

"A couple of my friends were heading to the beach yesterday and they saw what happened, before the ambulance showed up.

"There were so many people pulled over trying to help resuscitate.

"Something needs to be done."

 

Yellow paint on the intersection between Artillery Road and the turnoff to Cawarral mark where police carried out skid tests after the crash
Yellow paint on the intersection between Artillery Road and the turnoff to Cawarral mark where police carried out skid tests after the crash Jann Houley

It was not the first accident to happen on this "dangerous" intersection, but it would be one to make the community stand up and take notice.

"I've seen and heard of probably 10 near misses and accidents at that intersection [over the past eight years]," Mrs Payne said.

"I have had a couple of near misses. One where I was nearly side-swiped and had to speed backwards really fast to avoid being hit. Some where I was just at the intersection waiting to turn.

"On a foggy morning, you can't see 15 feet in front of you. It's very busy, traffic is flowing and people are still doing 100km/h.

"My husband [Alex] says it's like Russian Roulette."

After the outpouring of grief from the community on Facebook, many started to address what could be done to stop another tragedy happening again.

Traffic lights, a round-a-bout and a speed limit reduction to 80km/h were some of the suggestions.

"They definitely need traffic lights there. If there were lights, there would be no way it would have happened," Mrs Payne said.

"Even if it's turned into an 80km/h zone, there's still not enough time to avoid an incident. It would make no difference. You need to stop.

"If you're coming from Yeppoon and turning right onto Artillery Rd and a car from Yeppoon is turning right to Cawarral, they're both going the opposite way and they can't see what's coming down on the inside lane at 100km/h.

"You can't see what's coming and you're risking your life."

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig expressed his condolences on Monday morning about the tragic accident.

"On behalf of the community, our condolences go out to all those impacted by the terrible tragedy," he said.

"It highlights just how important it is to have that entire road, with the volumes of traffic that are now on it, fully upgraded to four lanes all the way.

"The dangerous intersection needs to be upgraded with appropriate tragic controls to a tragedy like this doesn't happen again.

"It's up to the government to realise there's an issue there. Those warning signs they've put up telling people to slow down are really just band-aids and aren't good enough."

Cr Ludwig said investment in safety measures such as reduced speed limits, traffic lights or a round-a-bout were "absolutely critical" for keeping the community safe.

"The Capricorn Coast is continuing to grow. It's the fastest growing area in the region and that comes with a responsibility by the state and federal government to put in structures required to make it safe," he said.

"It has to start at the very dangerous intersection.

"We've had promises over the years from politicians that the two lane issue will be assessed and it's happened in dribs and drabs. It's not good enough.

"This has to be one of the highest priorities. It has to happen now."

 

Several children were seriously injured in a two vehicle crash at the intersection of Yeppoon Rd and Arterial Rd, Ironpot.
Several children were seriously injured in a two vehicle crash at the intersection of Yeppoon Rd and Arterial Rd, Ironpot. Michelle Gately

Cr Ludwig said the amount of accident on Yeppoon Rd are directly related to the lack of investment from successive governments.

"We've got a situation where cars from both directions are wither coming out of or back into lanes," he said.

"There needs to be four lanes put in. We need the proper controls.

"This has to be one of the most frightening intersections on a state controlled road in Australia.

"It's so easy to get distracted and if you're coming from Artillery Rd, it feels like a drive-through road."

 

Several children were seriously injured in a two vehicle crash at the intersection of Yeppoon Rd and Arterial Rd, Ironpot.
Several children were seriously injured in a two vehicle crash at the intersection of Yeppoon Rd and Arterial Rd, Ironpot. Michelle Gately

As a grandfather, Cr Ludwig empathised with the devastation of the Sunday accident.

"I know how heart wrenching it must be to have a tragedy like this," he said.

"I don't think anybody in the community will not be getting behind this cause.

"The state and federal government to come together and help this appalling situation."

The Department of Main Roads and Transport said they were aware of the tragic death and the circumstances surrounding the incident were under investigation.



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