POLICE suspect fatigue was to blame for a Hume Freeway crash early yesterday.
The driver of a B-double was pulled from the windscreen of his crushed cabin after his trailers sank into a creek about 12.50am.
The truck was hauling tractor parts from Melbourne to Queensland when it veered into the freeway’s median strip and plunged into the Fifteen Mile Creek on the Wangaratta bypass.
The cabin landed on the embankment, while the trailers landed in the creek water.
The driver, a 63-year-old man from Narrandera, had told police he had been distracted from the roadway as he tried to adjust his radio, and he was facing a $346 fine for careless driving.
But Sgt Michael Connors, of Wangaratta’s highway patrol, said a daylight assessment had prompted investigators to rethink what had happened.
“That’s what the driver is saying (he was distracted by the radio), but on an inspection of the area, we will be investigating whether fatigue has played a role,” Sgt Connors said.
“There’s no evidence of alcohol or excessive speed.
“We’ll be investigating the driver’s movements and sleep patterns over the 48 hours before the crash to see whether we can eliminate fatigue as a cause.”
Sgt Connors said other truckies stopped to help pull the B-double driver through the window of his cabin.
He was not seriously injured.
The prime mover and its trailers were not removed from the creek bed until yesterday afternoon.
The freeway’s north-bound lanes were closed just after 2pm to allow a crane and tow trucks winch up the cabin and trailers.
“When you’ve got a truck and trailers in a creek you’re looking at it being five to eight metres below the road surface and it’s very time consuming and requires a lot of expertise,” Sgt Connors said.
The operation finished about 4.10pm and the freeway reopened to traffic about 6pm.
Motorists were diverted through Wangaratta during the recovery.