Driver sentenced for severe truck crash and fire at Grattai

AFTERMATH: The accident scene off of the Hill End Road on June 26. Photos: Andrew Micallef.
AFTERMATH: The accident scene off of the Hill End Road on June 26. Photos: Andrew Micallef.

The truck driver charged with an accident on the Hill End Road in June that lead to a severe fire and the deaths of hundreds of sheep he was transporting, was sentenced in Mudgee Local Court on Wednesday.

William Thomas Lewis, aged 37, of Mayne Street, Gulgong, was fined $1000, disqualified for 18 months and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond for ‘Drive recklessly/furiously or speed/manner dangerous’.

At about 1pm on June 26, 2017, Lewis was driving the truck along the Hill End Road at Grattai carrying 430 head of sheep.

When approaching a sharp bend, about 1km past the Windeyer Road turnoff, he braked and the truck moved onto the wrong side of the road before going straight through the bend.

It then rolled onto its left side and down an embankment.

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Lewis was assisted from the truck by another driver and suffered a gash and bruising to the back of his head and face.

When police arrived the vehicle was alight and only about 100 sheep could be saved, around 80 needed to be euthanised and Lewis’ dog also died.

His solicitor, Richard Wise, told the court that the sheep had moved in the trailer and caused his client to lose control.

He added that the accident has had an effect on him and that he’d had a similar crash in 2015 heading into Sofala, which also resulted in the deaths of hundreds of sheep.

Magistrate Mark Shepherd told Lewis “it’s driver error in a huge way, the sort that shouldn’t happen, you only survived by pure luck”.