Urunga rocked by truck tragedy
THE TTTHE township of Urunga is furious in the wake of Sunday's tragedy, which saw an 11-year-old boy killed when a truck carrying bananas ploughed into his bedroom.
Seconds earlier, about 5am yesterday, the B-double and a utility collided on the Pacific Highway at Urunga, 27 kilometres south of Coffs Harbour.
The driver of the ute, a 38-year-old Nambucca Heads father of two, died at the scene and seven other people were taken to Coffs Harbour Hospital.
The 51-year-old truck driver, a Queensland man, and a 31-year-old today remained in intensive care pending release.
Their conditions were listed as stable.
Coming to terms with the horrific accident, locals are calling for improvements to the notoriously dangerous road.
Allan Phillips, who lives in one of the houses damaged in the crash, said a bypass needed to be built and politicians needed to act immediately.
Bellingen Mayor Mark Troy said he had lobbied for both an upgrade of the road and the reinstatement of a speed camera.
"This is the accident many feared but never wanted to witness,'' Mr Troy said.
"Our first thoughts and hopes are with the bereaved and injured.
"`As recently as December, council appealed to the state and federal governments to allocate funding for the Raleigh to Nambucca Heads Pacific Highway upgrade.
"Council has also lobbied the state Roads Minister for the reinstatement of the speed camera near the site of this appalling tragedy.''
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the camera at Urunga was one of several that had been removed as a result of a report from the state's Auditor-General.
"Let the police do their work, see whether it was speed, see whether it was human error or another factor,'' he said.
The Premier said the state and federal governments were determined to fix the highway at Urunga.
The boy's family, from Penrith in Sydney's west, were trapped inside the house for a short time.
His parents, his 14-year-old brother and two people from the house next door escaped with shock and minor injuries.
All have been taken to Coffs Harbour Hospital.
The driver of the truck, a 51-year-old from Queensland, and his 31-year-old male passenger were also taken to hospital with spinal, limb and chest injuries.
UPDATE: TWO people remain in hospital at Coffs Harbour while another five have been released after treatment in the wake of a double traffic fatality at Urunga.
Inspector Evan Clark, Paramedic and Mid North Coast Zone manager, said he doubts whether it will be necessary for transfers to occur to larger facilities.
But Coffs-Clarence Local Area Commander Inspector Brendan Gorman said initial investigations hinted at a miraculous escape by the brother of the 11-year-old boy who died in a house after a B-double ploughed off the Pacific Highway.
"The death occurred in a granny flat at the back of the house," he revealed.
"It was a two-bedroom unit and he was staying in there with his brother, and the mother and father were in another room."
He confirmed there was evidence the truck driver attempted to brake before the impact.
Police have spoken to him but he has not yet been able to give a full statement.
Inspector Gorman was asked whether or not the speed camera in the centre of Urunga was operational but said he couldn't make a comment either way.
"That is a matter for the RTA," he said.
EARLIER: POLICE and paramedics have described the "horrific scene" when officers first arrived at a traffic crash in the middle of Urunga township on Sunday morning which has claimed the lives of two people.
Inspector Evan Clark, Paramedic and Mid North Coast Zone manager, gave a graphic account of what officers first observed in the half light of dawn.
"It was a confronting scene for paramedics," he said.
"It was dark and the sun hadn't quite come up yet and it was a complex and complicated scene given the location of the first affected vehicle.
"We then (had to try) to understand in actual fact what had gone on further down the road.
"It was still unclear until a significant reconnaissance of the scene, determined it had taken out two dwellings and they were actually forced to move to the rear of the second dwelling.
"It was quite complex and confronting until additional resources arrived."
The report for the coroner will be a bulky document and the police professionals who are conducting the investigation are only at the beginning of their task.
But what Coffs-Clarence Local Area Command Inspector Brendan Gorman said is already clear is that around 5am this morning, an unthinkable tragedy occurred in the residential area of Urunga, 27km south of Coffs Harbour.
"Police were called to the scene on the Pacific Highway where a northbound utility had collided with a southbound B-double truck," he said.
"As a result of that collision the truck lost control and went into a house located on the western side of the highway.
"Unfortunately, the driver of the ute was killed, along with an 11-year-old boy asleep in the front bedroom of the house.
"Police, ambulance, SES, fire and rescue responded and found a horrific scene.
"A short time later the crash investigation team and crime scene officers arrived."
Inspector Gorman said those first on the scene found the boy within the house and the utility driver, both already deceased.
Witnesses have spoken of dazed victims wandering through the wreckage and unable to speak until well after relief arrived.
The truck was loaded with bananas and is a 2002-model Kenworth prime mover with a B-double trailer and the driver is a 51-year-old man from Queensland.
He and a male passenger were taken to Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
The deceased driver of the 1999-model Holden Commodore was a 38-year-old man from Nambucca Heads.
He was the only occupant of the vehicle.
The boy was a visitor from Penrith.
His parents and brother along with two people from the house next door, escaped with shock and minor injuries and were among seven persons taken to hospital.