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Three generations wiped out in a flash

18 Dec

Reading the circumstances in this sad story I couldn’t help but reflect that back in 1975 this was almost me.

At 4.15pm they had just passed Narrabri and were heading south along the Kamilaroi Highway.

About five kilometres after Baan Baa, the driver, Mr Jacobs, pulled out to overtake, only to realise a truck was coming from the opposite direction.

As he swerved back into the left lane, the car and trailer jackknifed, sending the vehicle veering across the road and into the prime mover’s fuel tank. There was an explosion and both vehicles burst into flames. Police believe the occupants of the Commodore died on impact.

I told my story on Diary-X years ago, but that is long gone. It happened like this. I had been visiting my brother who then lived on the Gold Coast and was returning via Nimbin and Coffs Harbour. In Coffs Harbour I called on an English teacher colleague then headed off in the afternoon for Port Macquarie, where I planned to stay overnight.

As I drove down the Pacific Highway somewhere around Taree it was beginning to rain lightly, and I was stuck on a windy stretch — single lane on my side — through state forests, very similar to the picture on the left. I was stuck behind a semitrailer which accelerated whenever an overtaking opportunity presented itself and slowed otherwise. Behind me was a tourist bus. I was looking out for chances to pass the semi. I should mention I was driving a fairly gutless but front wheel drive Subaru 1400. That is significant.

PacificHighway

The Subaru did not have great powers of acceleration, though good enough for most purposes.

At last I spotted a chance, so I pulled out into the north-bound lane and started to pass the semi, which chose of course to accelerate. Meanwhile the bus was closing in too.

Travelling at 70 mph (old measures) beside the truck I saw four cars heading straight for me on the northbound lane. What to do? The semi was next to me, the bus was closing the gap, the cars were travelling towards me at a similar speed so our closing rate was over 100 mph… There was nowhere to go as any sudden swerve off  the road would have wrapped me around a tree — the forest had at this point closed in. So, thinking this was the end, I hit the brakes.

Given the slippery surface from the rain and the fact the Subaru was front wheel drive the car reacted thus to my braking: it slid sideways between the semi and the bus, parking neatly short of the trees on the south-bound side of the road!

I sat there for some minutes contemplating what had just happened. After all, that amazing manouevre had happened totally out of my control.

I set off again for Port Macquarie, passing that semi further down the road.

When I got to Port I booked into the most expensive motel there and ordered the most expensive meal…

I told my mother this story about fifteen years later…

 

1976_017.jpg

My saviour!

 revised on Windows Live Writer and  first Blogged with Flock



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Posted by on December 18, 2007 in Australia, events, memory, personal, travel

 

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