Those of us who know Thunderbolt's Way know just how steep parts of the road are. Travelling east down the escarpment is a break hugging journey. Wednesday, tragedy happened. The story that follows is drawn from the Manning River Times.
Wednesday 5 February, two trucks were travelling down the mountain. A bit before 4pm, the truck behind carrying a load of sheet metal found that its brakes were malfunctioning. It radioed the truck in front to say that I have lost my brakes. The truck in front tried to slow him down by blocking him, essentially allowing the truck behind to run up its rear, thus forcing a slow down,
The manoeuvre failed. According to a spokesman for the Hunter’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, a trail of debris more than 100m long was left along the road. it was clear the trucks had attempted to reduce their speed by going up the high side of the embankment several times. Finally, both trucks went off the low side of the road and down a steep 45 degree incline.
Emergency service crews then struggled to reach both trucks and their drivers who were trapped more than 50m down a steep cliff. Specialist climbing gear had to be brought in by the SES to reach the trucks.
The driver and sole occupant of one of the trucks, a 32-year-old Karuah man, died at the scene.
A 47-year-old man and 51-year-old woman travelling in the second truck were airlifted to John Hunter Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
Knowing that road well, I have always been concerned on the steep parts about the risk of crash. You just have to be very careful.