POLICE said a truck driver had “died a hero” after he suffered a medical condition on the Hume Freeway and managed to steer his truck away from other motorists.
Phillip Jackson, 59, from the Melbourne suburb of Carrum Downs, was one of three people who were killed on Border roads in what Albury police Inspector David Cottee called a “tragic” week.
Mr Jackson was driving a fully laden B-double south on the Hume Freeway when, between Albury and Wodonga about 5.30pm on Friday, Insp Cottee said the father possibly suffered medical complications.
Mr Jackson veered off the road, crossed a service road and went through a large fence and into a dam, submerging the truck.
Insp Cottee said Mr Jackson put his gears into neutral and successfully avoided any other cars.
“There’s a distinct possibility he knew something was wrong and he’s done everything he could,” he said.
“If that’s the case then he’s died a hero.”
Mr Jackson was pulled out of the submerged truck cab and given CPR for more than an hour.
Mr Jackson died in hospital the next day.
Insp Cottee said the actions of civilians and the officers meant his family had enough time to say goodbye to Mr Jackson before he died.
The crash came only two days after a Sydney man, 27, was killed on the Five Mates Crossing bridge south of Gerogery in a head-on car collision and three days after a Lavington man, 21, was hit and killed by a truck after he walked on to the Hume Freeway at Lavington.
“It’s been a tragic week,” Insp Cottee said.
“The trauma is a bit like a ripple effect.”
He said two of the three fatalities could have been avoided and he urged motorists to be wary of fatigue levels and keep mobile phones out of reach when driving.
He said the cause of the Gerogery crash was still being investigated, but fatigue or driver inattention could have played a part.