IT was a very lucky escape indeed for a South Gippsland mother and son, when an attempt to avoid a wombat eventuated in their car careening down an embankment – entrapping the pair in their vehicle.
When travelling from Toora to Foster along the South Gippsland Highway just before 7am last Friday, the driver took the only course of action available to avoid the wombat which was in the centre of the left lane to the west of the Franklin River bridge.
Visibility was hindered by low light levels, and a wet road surface and oncoming traffic prevented a swerve to the right, the driver was forced to steer his Ford Falcon to the left, the car spinning in the wet, veering off the road and plummeting backwards down the slope for a distance of around 100 metres – losing some momentum as it travelled through the scrub.
The vehicle came to rest against a very small tree – the only thing preventing it from continuing on its course – and both the male P Plate driver and his passenger were trapped and unable to exit the vehicle.
With poor reception in that area, attempts to call 000 failed but the pair eventually managed to phone a member of the family who contacted emergency services.
CFA members from Toora, Fish Creek and Foster units were in attendance were on the scene and made their way down the embankment to the make the occupants as comfortable as possible until ambulances from Foster and Leongatha arrived.
Ray Argento, Deputy Group Officer of the South Gippsland Fire Brigade Group, said that the pair were extremely lucky to have eventually managed to raise help via a mobile phone, as they would not have been seen from the road and the position in which they found themselves absolutely necessitated assistance from emergency services.
Yarram Police attended the scene and closed the west-bound lane of the South Gippsland Highway while an access track was made by CFA members. Using hand tools, blackberries and small shrubs were removed to form a track, allowing the ‘jaws of life’ to be used to free and driver and passenger.
The driver was uninjured and was able to walk out. His passenger appeared to be suffering only bruising and shock and was lifted out by paramedics on a stokes litter – or basket stretcher. Both the driver and passenger were taken by ambulance to South Gippsland Hospital, Foster for observation.
Senior Constable Luke Anderton is appealing to drivers to take extra care on the road, especially when driving at times of low visibility, such as early morning, dusk and during the night.
- Before setting out, it is very important to do what you can to increase visibility. Make sure that ice and frost is removed from the windscreen and that both the inside and outside of windows are clean. Wipe over side mirrors and rear window.
- Make sure that all lights are in good working order.
- When driving, give yourself more space than you normally would between your car and the one in front.
- If you need to take evasive action to avoid something on the road, try to do so slowly. Rather than suddenly braking, a slower driving speed should allow you to steer around the obstacle, therefore minimising the chances of losing control of the car.
- Take a torch.
- Take your mobile phone and make sure it is fully charged.