Smashed up: The driver of a utility retrieves items from her horse float at the Tiki Rd accident at Moonee.
Smashed up: The driver of a utility retrieves items from her horse float at the Tiki Rd accident at Moonee.

Highway shut down three times

THE highway is driving us crazy.

Three smashes, two hours apart brought traffic to a standstill – yet again – yesterday.

The frequent traffic snarls are incensing local motorists who have come to accept painful delays on our main thoroughfare are just part of living on the Coffs Coast.

Fortunately, no-one was seriously injured yesterday as the highway was shut down three times.

Two of the accidents happened three kilometres apart on the 80km/h highway stretch where roadworks have started on the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade.

A car careered off the highway in the city centre at 8.40am, smashing into a palm tree near the Coffs Fire Station in Little Street.

Emergency crews were then tasked to Moonee Beach at the Tiki Road turn-off where the Mazda utility crashed into a semi-trailer, about 9.20am.

Police said the ute had been pulling a horse trailer which became detached and overturned on the side of the road.

The 42-year-old female driver escaped injuries as did her four great danes inside the horse float at the time.

Truck driver Bruce Brumester of Warwick, Queensland credited the reduced roadworks speed limit as the reason no-one was injured in the smash.

“It’s the first accident I’ve ever had and it really frightened me. The ute and horse float just lost control in front of me,” Mr Burmester said. .

“It was just lucky it was an 80km limit.”

It took almost an hour for the highway to reopen after the utility towing the horsefloat fish-tailed into the path a semi-trailer.

Traffic banked up for kilometres on either side of the crash scene.

Northern beach commuters along with interstate truckies and travellers were frustrated as an extra two hours was added to the Sydney- Brisbane trip.

Almost an hour after the highway reopened a four car pile-up happened in the south-bound lane, just past the Lake Russell turnoff at 11.15am.

Police confirmed that a woman driving a young child in a Toyota 4-Runner rear-ended a Hyundai Santa Fe causing extensive damage.

A Toyota Landcruiser and a trailer towed by an Isuzu truck were also damaged.

Watching his Hyundai being towed away was Wayne Bennett of Brisbane.

“The woman behind me said her sandal got caught in the accelerator,” Mr Bennett said.

The driver of one of the cars in the pile-up had turned back to Woolgoolga to avoid a long wait in the earlier accident.

“It was bumper-to-bumper back then at the Emerald Beach petrol station,” said Les Smith of Woolgoolga. “We did the washing, spent an hour at the laundromat and thought it’d be clear now and then this happened.”

Busy at both accidents was tow truck driver and smash repairer Greg Hennessey.

“It doesn’t happen that often. Everything’s slowed down for the roadworks. Because of that first accident, that’s created the next one. It’s going to be a busy Christmas,” he said.

Police have advised motorists to be mindful and considerate driving between Woolgoolga and Coffs Harbour.

For many yesterday a dual carriageway on the northern beaches couldn’t come soon enough, but in reality it’s still four years off being completed.

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