High­way guardian hon­oured

Bridge­stone award for hero M5 truckie

Big Rigs - - NEWS -

IT WAS a fresh June morn­ing when Suez driver Darell Wil­son was headed west­bound on the M5 in Syd­ney.

The day hadn’t started off in the usual way: In­stead of trav­el­ling onto his usual route, Darell was held up and had to head straight to Wether­ill Park for a small ser­vice.

Lit­tle did Darell know mo­ments later his life was about to change and his quick re­ac­tions were all that stood be­tween more than 20 lives and dis­as­ter – in an act of driv­ing brav­ery that made in­ter­na­tional head­lines.

“I saw the bus on the side of the road sit­ting there from a while away, I won­dered what it was do­ing but it came to a com­plete stop at a cor­ner turn,” Darell said.

“This was a high­way but, at the last minute, the bus de­cided to go for it.”

As he inched closer, Darell saw in hor­ror the bus was packed with more than 20 school chil­dren.

“I saw the kids, my brain went crazy – it was go to the wall or try and stop the truck an­other way,” he said.

“But the brain is such a pow­er­ful thing, it showed me all the calm.

“I thought OK, I will try and avoid the bus and twitched the wheel about 40 mil.”

The end re­sult was Darell in­ten­tion­ally turn­ing his semi-trailer to­wards a con­crete bar­rier and jack-knifed, in order to wash off speed and avoid the bus as it pulled into on­com­ing traf­fic.

“We all lived to see the next day. I just had to re­place a few wheels, that’s all,” he said.

Within days, footage of the in­ci­dent had trav­elled around the na­tion, earn­ing him praise from the gen­eral pub­lic and truck­ing com­mu­nity for his ac­tions.

In De­cem­ber Darell was awarded the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s great­est honours, the Bridge­stone Bandag High­way Guardian Award, recog­nis­ing his swift ac­tion to avoid a ma­jor ac­ci­dent.

Mr Wil­son was also recog­nised by in­dus­try body, the Waste Con­trac­tors and Re­cy­clers’ As­so­ci­a­tion NSW, by way of a safety award for the same rea­son, a recog­ni­tion Darell sees as a great hon­our.

“It was hard, after that. All I wanted to do was get un­der a rock and hide, I

❝ When I saw the kids, it was go to the wall or try and stop the truck an­other way.

didn’t want the at­ten­tion,” he said.

“My job is to keep safe on the road, so ev­ery­one can get home.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate it, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to be la­belled a hero.

“I’m just a truck driver, it could have hap­pened to any­body if cir­cum­stances had of been dif­fer­ent it could have been cat­a­strophic,” he said.

Bridge­stone Aus­tralia and New Zealand man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Mof­fatt ad­mired Mr Wil­son’s self­less act to avoid en­dan­ger­ing the lives of oth­ers.

“Darell Wil­son is a credit to SUEZ. His split-sec­ond de­ci­sion pre­vented a ma­jor ac­ci­dent from tak­ing place,” Mr Mof­fatt said.

Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion chair Geoff Crouch also praised Darell.

“Truck driv­ers are un­der con­stant pres­sure on the road but the last thing Darell Wil­son would have ex­pected was to see a bus pulling out in front of him,” Mr Crouch said.

“Thank­fully, due to his quick think­ing and in­cred­i­ble ve­hi­cle con­trol, Mr Wil­son pre­vented an ac­ci­dent oc­cur­ring, demon­strated the im­por­tance and ben­e­fit of proper driver train­ing and high­lighted how cru­cial it is to re­main vig­i­lant on the roads,” he said.

The Bridge­stone Bandag High­way Guardian Award honours pro­fes­sional truck driv­ers who go above and be­yond the call of duty to as­sist those around them.

PHOTO: ATA

AWARDS: Chief In­spec­tor Phil Brooks, Bridge­stone’s Geoff May, driver Darell Wil­son, Bridge­stone’s Shane Cox and ATA CEO Ben Maguire.

PHOTO: NSW PO­LICE

FOOTAGE: The bus pulled out with lit­tle space in front of Darell.

PHOTO: NSW PO­LICE

In a jackknife Darell avoided dis­as­ter and pos­si­bly fa­tal­i­ties.

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