It was a long, tough and emotional day for everyone roadside at Widgiemooltha, WA, on Tuesday, June 20.
Around 20 truckies were caught in the aftermath of a tragic accident between Kambalda and Norseman in which a 33-year-old male driver of a Hino truck sustained critical injuries and tragically died at the scene.
But transplanted Kiwi Jan O’Connor, one of the truckies trapped in the subsequent ‘hold’ for up to 11 hours while lanes were blocked at the intersection of Goldfields Highway and Coolgardie-Esperance Highway, says the ordeal was made a lot easier thanks to the thoughtfulness of WA Police.
She took to Facebook site WA Truckies and Big Rigs to praise the three police officers controlling traffic from nearby Kambalda, who also organised pizzas, a tray of croissants, a crate of water and soft drinks for truckies, and even had portaloos trucked in for the day by Main Roads.
“Compared to NZ cops (underpaid, overworked and niggly to the max) I could not believe how good these WA coppers were,” wrote O’Connor, who also gave Big Rigs permission to publish the post.
“Easy to talk to, were open to suggestions about communicating with the waiting truckies, and what struck me was they were mostly young, fit, and sensible. Unlike the poor old NZ coppers where most of the good ones have left in disgust.
“I was surprised when one cop thanked us for being respectful and not rubbernecking when they extracted the deceased’s body, but we all know it could have been any of us involved that morning so who would want to stare at a body removal. A split second and a life is taken.
“So yep, you’ve got some good coppers here.”
Kambalda Sergeant Ryan Devine, who was in charge of traffic management on the day, was humbled by the praise from O’Connor, and the other truckies, when told about the Facebook post.
He told Big Rigs that he was just doing his job but glad to hear that the truckies felt looked after on such a difficult day for everyone.
“We didn’t actually go out and get the pizza ourselves, I won’t take that credit. We have some emergency management partners in the area so I contacted them and they went to the Kambalda Hotel and bought some pizzas and brought them to the scene, and then we distributed them,” he said.
“Given the circumstance and what they were confronted with, which was obviously quite a testing scene with the loss of a life on a road they travel regularly, they were all fantastic with us and very understanding of the delay, which ultimately was quite a long one for a lot of them.”
Sgt Devine said investigations continue by the Major Crash Investigation Squad from Perth into the crash between the Hino tray-back truck and road train.
Investigators would like to speak to anyone who saw the crash or either truck travelling in the area prior to the crash, and urge anyone with information relating to this incident to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via crimestopperswa.com.au.
Dash-cam or mobile phone vision relating to this crash can uploaded directly to investigators via this link: wapf.au.evidence.com/axon/community-request/public/fatalcrashwidgiemooltha.
If you, or anyone you know has been affected by a road crash, contact Road Trauma Support WA on 1300 004 814.