A truck driver has been charged after he allegedly crashed his B-double tanker into a traffic light in Melbourne’s CBD and did not stop to assist at the crash site despite injuring five pedestrians in the process.
It is reported that around 7pm on Thursday 6th May 2021, Frank Rogers, 64, was driving through the intersection of City Road and Power Street in Southbank when it is alleged his truck cut the corner and mounted the footpath, knocking out the traffic light.
In the process, a group of five people who were standing on the corner of the intersection, were all severely injured.
Nevertheless, the truck driver simply left the scene and did not stop to assist at the site of the crash.
Over a dozen emergency vehicles, including police, ambulances and firefighters, quickly flocked to the area to assist the five pedestrians, all aged in their 20s and 30s, who were left bleeding on the ground with injuries to the lower body.
Several bystanders also stopped to assist.
According to a witness, the bang of the collision between the “giant truck” and the traffic light was so loud that it emanated a “bomb” going off.
“It was one of the loudest bangs I’ve ever heard,” witness Daniel Falzon told 9News, adding he was on his way home from work at the time.
He said the intersection then fell into complete silence, as if “someone pressed pause on the whole scene”, all until screams of shock slashed through the stillness.
“Everything went silent for about five to 10 seconds,” Mr Falzon said.
“We didn’t know what to do, our brains were just trying to understand what happened and then we started hearing the screaming.”
At this point, Mr Falzon ran over to help as many people as he could, clutching a young female whom he believed was in the most danger seeing the traffic light on her pelvis.
“Unfortunately for this young female, it was crushing her pelvis – as the doctor lifted it [the traffic light] up I’ve picked her up and just put her on my lap, on the side just to wait for help,” Mr Falzon said.
Police arrested the 64-year-old man from Wyndham Vale, who detectives say are assisting them with their investigation.
Statement from Truck Driver’s Employer Says Mr Rogers was “Unaware” of the Crash
In the aftermath of the incident, the truck driver’s employer, K&S Group, released a statement saying Mr Rogers was “unaware” of the crash.
“We’re advised the driver maintains he was unaware of the incident,” K&S Group managing director and CEO Paul Sarant said.
“It’s obviously a very serious matter which is being fully investigated by the police and the company.
“Our thoughts are with the people and the families of those involved.”
Mr Rogers has been working for the company for nearly 10 years.
At the time the collision occurred, he was on his way to the depot to finish his shift.
K&S Group is now undertaking an internal workplace health and safety investigation of the incident.
Residents Speak Out After Incident with Concerns Over Safety at Intersection
Since the horrific crash, local residents have expressed serious concerns over the safety of the infamous intersection, with some even starting petitions calling for heavy vehicles to be removed from the “dangerous” road.
One Southbank resident who was at the scene of the crash was Peter Duras, who said the collision was “horrifying”.
“My stomach just turned, it was just horrifying to see people lying everywhere, ambulance officers doing their best and police and fire cars everywhere,” Mr Duras said.
He added that for years the corner had been a concern, largely because trucks with placarded loads are not permitted to enter the Domain or Burnley tunnels, and were channelled onto City Road.
“As the area is built up more and more and more highly developed it’s become a definite concern because you see the difficulty which some of these vehicles have getting around that corner,” Mr Duras said.
“This is a high-density residential area so it’s possibly inevitable that one day this would happen.”
Meanwhile, Janine Patterson, also a local resident who lives just 100m from the crash site, said the collision was an accident “waiting to happen”.
“That particular corner had a recent build on it and it actually decreased the size of footpath available for pedestrians to stand safely,” she told ABC News.
“The large tankers and heavy vehicles that frequent that area actually tend to cut that corner, leaving anyone standing there quite vulnerable to being hit.”
Since the incident, Ms Patterson has started a petition, urging for safety improvements at the intersection.
She said she heard the crash from inside her apartment and watched on in terror from her balcony.
Driving Offence: ‘Hit and Run’ After a Crash in New South Wales
Duty to stop and assist after crash: As a driver, by law, it is your duty if you are involved in a traffic accident to stop at the site of the crash and give all necessary assistance within your ability to any injured persons.
If you are in NSW, under section 146 of the Road Transport Act 2013, if you drive a vehicle on a road that gets involved in a crash causing either injury or death to another person, and you know or ought reasonably to know that your vehicle has been involved in an impact causing such harm or death and you have failed to stop to give assistance, then you can be found guilty of an offence of failing to stop and assist after a crash.
The offence is taken very seriously with substantial maximum penalties to match.
These maximum penalties include a fine of $3,300, or 18 months in jail, or both, for a first-time offence.
An automatic driver licence disqualification period of three years (or court’s discretionary minimum of 12 months) also comes into play.
Where the offence is carried out by a second or subsequent offender, the maximum penalties are even more weighty.
In this case, the maximum penalties jump to a $5,500 fine, or two years in jail, or, or both.
Here, an automatic driver licence disqualification period of five years applies (or court’s discretionary minimum of two years).
By Sahar Adatia.