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Double fatality truckie: 'That night was my worst nightmare'

The scene of a double fatality near Huts Creek on the Bruce Highway.

Photo Ebony Battersby / The Observer
The scene of a double fatality near Huts Creek on the Bruce Highway. Photo Ebony Battersby / The Observer Ebony Battersby

A TRUCK driver charged over an accident that killed two people may have walked free from court on Wednesday but the psychological impact of the horrific event will stay with him forever.

Mornington Peninsula based truck driver David Walter Neil Cox was found not guilty by a jury after a two-day trial in Rockhampton District Court.

Xinzi Che and Man Tat Sze died when a 1.88 tonne steel pipe fell from the back of Mr Cox's truck, smashed into their car which then burst into flames.

The accident occurred on the Bruce Hwy at Mt Larcom about 4am on December 6, 2014.

Mr Cox was 27 at the time of the accident.

 

David Walter Neil Cox was found not guilty by a jury of one count of dangerous driving causing death in relation to an accident on the Bruce Highway at Mt Larcom on December 6, 2014.
David Walter Neil Cox was found not guilty by a jury of one count of dangerous driving causing death in relation to an accident on the Bruce Highway at Mt Larcom on December 6, 2014. Allan Reinikka ROK131217acourt1

"That night was my worst nightmare and the nightmare of every truck driver," Mr Cox said outside court after the verdict.

"There is not a day that doesn't go by that I don't relive it. It's just one of those things that plays in the back of your mind constantly, like a movie.

"This accident has cost the lives of two innocent people... I've got to live with that for the rest of my life. I will never ever forget that."

 

During the trial, the court heard Mr Cox had not been allowed on his own trailer to inspect a load pre-packed by Bechtel employees due to a Bechtel safety policy.

The court heard it was suggested none of the employers informed Mr Cox of an aluminium walkway that he could use to climb up high enough to inspect the load.

Each of the three men, who gave evidence during the trial, played a role in the loading of a 13-tonne green steel frame and two 1.88 tonne pipes onto Mr Cox's trailer - the green steel frame along the bottom of the trailer, both steel pipes on top of the green frame with one near the cabin and one at the end of the trailer.

The court heard the load was one of 400 that travelled between Hay Point and Toowoomba after Wagners bought a walking bridge from Bechtel and it was transported in pieces by subcontract truck drivers.

Questions were also raised about why only one wooden cradle was used instead of two to support the pipes. The court heard one flat piece of timber was used in place of the second cradle underneath each of the steel pipes, with the pipes tilting to the centre of the trailer. The straps in question then criss-crossed over the pipes.

Mechanical Engineer Denis Richard Larson informed the court that had appropriate timber cradles been placed under the steel pipes, along with friction pads, and other elements of the load security remaining, the pipes would not have moved, nor become free as they did.

 

A double fatlaity on the Bruce Hwy just north of Hut Creek caused traffic chaos in both directions on Saturday December 6.

Photo Ebony Battersby / The Observer
A double fatlaity on the Bruce Hwy just north of Hut Creek caused traffic chaos in both directions on Saturday December 6. Photo Ebony Battersby / The Observer Ebony Battersby

Mr Larson explained those elements of load securing needed to be put in place before the pipes were lifted by crane on top of the green steel frame.

Mr Cox, after the trial, said he hoped this case "starts to shine a light on the dangers of the transport industry and what we actually have to go through and what we experience on a daily basis."

"We get pushed pretty hard out there," he said.

 

David Walter Neil Cox was found not guilty by a jury of one count of dangerous driving causing death in relation to an accident on the Bruce Highway at Mt Larcom on December 6, 2014.
David Walter Neil Cox was found not guilty by a jury of one count of dangerous driving causing death in relation to an accident on the Bruce Highway at Mt Larcom on December 6, 2014. Allan Reinikka ROK131217acourt2

"It has spurred me on to teach all young truck drivers and pretty much any body I can speak to about it... basically, lives of motorists, lives of yourself, making sure you get home to your families at night. It comes before any load and any deadline or anything like that."

He said while the verdict lifted a "huge weight off his shoulders" with regards to the legal matters hanging over his head, he doubted he would ever find closure over the accident itself.

"My grandfather (truck driver) had an accident about 50 years ago where somebody had died and until his dying day, he never got over it. It's just something that you don't get past. The nightmares. The waking up in the middle of the night screaming. It's just something that I have to live with."

Topics:  bruce highway dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing dea david walter neil cox gladstonecourt mount larcom rockhampton district court tmbcourt truck driver


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