Stranded in the outback after breaking down, truckie Les Burgess was desperate to get home to take his 16-year-old son, who is in palliative care, for a ride in his new truck. That’s when two truckie heroes came to the rescue.
Burgess, 63, had just purchased a 1997 Ford Louisville from Brisbane and was on his way home to Whyalla, SA, when things didn’t go to plan.
The truck broke down between Cunnamulla and Bourke.
“Where I broke down there was no phone service. The nearest phone reception was 30km away – it was in the middle of nowhere. I had so many people just go straight past me. Only two others stopped, so I gave them my wife’s phone number so they could call and let her know I was broken down. I got stuck at 7pm at night and was there until these guys stopped at 10.30am the next morning,” Burgess explained.
“The truck isn’t yet registered. It was on a special permit so I could drive it home – and I only had two days left on that permit. That’s why it was so imperative to get home and take my boy Joseph for a ride.”
Truckies Andrew Koschel and Mitchell Chant became Burgess’ knights in shining armour, when they pulled up to see how they could help.
“They were heading out to Bourke from Cunnamulla, which is where they’re based. The young lad said, ‘You’re in luck, we’re both mechanics.’ He clearly knew what he was doing, I never would have thought to fix it like that. They were such great guys,” Burgess said.
“It’s good to see the old way of driving still exists, in the sense that you stop and help when you see someone pulled over. They pulled up and came over to see what was wrong and got me going. It is a wonderful thing that those blokes stopped because I’m not young myself either.
“What happened was that on the main power supply from the battery to the rest of the truck, the bracket shook loose and it dropped the two main cables onto the tail shaft. As it was spinning around, it cut through all the cabling, so they had to be cut and reconnected, which the boys managed to do.
“I just want to say the hugest thank you to them both. It was amazing to be able to take my boy for a run before having to park the truck up.”
Once he got going again, Burgess called his wife Susan to let him know he was back on his way. “She got some friends together to help lift Joseph into the truck and we took him for a drive. And it’s all thanks to those guys.
“Joseph can’t talk but you could see from the expression on his face that he really enjoyed it. He loves the trucks.”
Joseph is currently under the watch of the palliative care team at the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a precarious situation our son is in. He’s not in a good spot. He can’t go back to school anymore but we are trying to get him back a few days a week. Being in a wheelchair too, it’s been pretty tough on him, but to have those boys give me the opportunity to take him for a ride in my truck was really important to me,” added Burgess.
“He’s been in and out of hospital from a week after he turned one. The last three to four years have been really tough on him. He started off with epilepsy and then while in hospital for a lung infection, he got pancreatitis. Because of his age, it’s too dangerous to remove the pancreas. He’s just starting to come off the morphine now.”
A veteran transport operator, Burgess runs a small transport business called Barry Hale Removals. He purchased the company 13 years ago, which takes him all over the country. He currently has a fleet of four trucks – along with the Louisville he is hoping to have on the road in the next few months.
“I’ve been driving trucks since I was an apprentice. The bloke I worked for had an old Bedford truck and when I turned 16, he threw me the keys and said off you go. I’ve been in and out of trucks all my life.
“I’m quite busy at the moment and down a driver so it will probably be a few months, before I have the time to get the Louisville on the road again.”