Car stuck on tracks shunted 40m by freight train
A MARYBOROUGH man's stop for a call of nature on Saturday night turned to disaster when his car was hit by a fully laden freight train.
The impact of the crash lifted the Commodore station wagon 4m into the air and shunted it 40m down the road, leaving it a twisted ball of metal.
Luckily the south-bound freight train stayed on the rails and the driver stopped it about a kilometre down the track to assess the damage.
The driver of the car, Hayden Cockburn, was making his way home along the Bruce Hwy after visiting his son on the Gold Coast.
He decided to pull into Hermans Rd, a small dead-end road just off the highway south of Gunalda, to make a comfort stop about 7.45pm.
Mr Cockburn said as he turned off he drove over a railway crossing, parked and relieved himself in the bush.
The trouble started when Mr Cockburn got back into the car.
When he reversed the vehicle to turn it around and restart his journey home the back wheels of the Commodore got hung up on the railway lines.
"I'd gone too far and I got stuck on track," Mr Cockburn said.
He spent 20 minutes trying to free his car from the railway lines, putting down pieces of concrete and rock under the back wheels to try to give the car traction.
"I tried lifting and pulling it ...I didn't have a hope," Mr Cockburn said.
The frustration of not being able to release his car from the tracks soon turned to horror as the lights on the railway crossing started flashing and the boom gates started to lower.
There was a train bearing down on his three-week-old vehicle.
"I got out there, stood on the track and tried to wave him down," Mr Cockburn said.
"But I had no hope."
Realising he couldn't stop the train Mr Cockburn ran to safety.
"I can't describe the noise on impact but to say it was loud is an understatement," he said.
He said the car launched into the air taking out the western boom gate before sailing over a nearby sign post and landing on the road about 40m away.
"It was wild, mate," Mr Cockburn said.
When Gympie Fire and Rescue officers arrived at the scene fuel covered the road to the wrecked car. The firefighters damped down the crash scene before ambulance officers and other fire crews went to check on the train and its driver.
The Pacific National train sustained minor damage while the drivers were shocked by the crash but not hurt.
Queensland Rail's Gympie line was temporarily closed while the drivers were assessed by paramedics, and police and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland started investigating the crash.
The line has since reopened and investigations are continuing.