Lucky escape in Melbourne

Last week, we had a bad roll-over in Melbourne. Just about every member has probably heard about this one by now. It was on TV all around Australia. It also made TV in the USA and was picked up on CNN and the BBC.

A single crate rolled on the bend of a highway off-ramp that passes over the Princes Highway, between Geelong and Melbourne. The trailer ended up hanging over the side of the ramp, and the entire top deck of sheep fell onto the highway below, landing in traffic that was travelling at 100 kmh.

Several cars collided with sheep. At least one car rolled over several times. Fortunately, no-one in the cars was killed or even seriously injured. The stock driver also was lucky and came away without major injuries.

The TV cameras got some pretty attention-grabbing pictures of the truck hanging over the freeway, the bodies of the sheep, and some smashed up cars. They interviewed a young driver and her stunned remark ‘it was raining sheep!’ made it onto TV around the world.

As it happens, I was called out to help with the recovery. It was certainly a bad scene and it was very difficult to clear the wreck and deal with the sheep.

The story is still running in the Melbourne papers, a week after the incident happened, but luckily for us, almost all of the coverage has just described this as a very unusual, and very regrettable, accident.

The situation we’d be facing if one of the car drivers was killed is something to think about. I have no doubt that the media would give our industry an absolute flogging.

Once again, it’s a reminder that roll-overs are a really important issue to be on top of. For every driver, every load, and every trip, we need to keep safety at the top of our list.

John Beer

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