Today the Singleton community is trying to piece together exactly what unfolded yesterday morning, after a 29-year-old man allegedly stole a semi-trailer from Murrurundi and ploughed it through George Street, creating chaos for all involved.
Many businesses along George Street are now left recovering from the shocking incident, forced to close shop and clean up the debris sprawled along the stretch of road.
A historic home on the corner of George and Market Street has suffered the most substantial damage, losing its balcony and front façade.
The Royal Hotel has suffered minor damage at the front of the building. While the bus stop on the footpath was completely obliterated by the semi-trailer. It was a miracle that the commonly used stop was empty at the time.
George Street business owner, Karren Smith of Happy Grillmore’s was working at the time of the incident and saw the entire episode unfold.
“I was out the front with a customer, and we saw the truck coming towards us,” Ms Smith says.
“It ploughed through the street and a red vehicle was hit and pushed.”
In fact, Ms Smith says she feels lucky to be alive. One vehicle hit the power pole directly out the front of her shop, while another was pushed into the outdoor area to the right of the building. It was incredible the shop front was unscathed.
“One of our regular customers attended to the people in the vehicles, and we tried our best to assist the emergency crews and victims in any way we could,” she says.
“We lost power which means we lost all of our food and have lost some income. But it’s a miracle that more people weren’t injured and nothing more severe occurred.”
Also watching the incident unfold was Dick White who had stopped at the BP service station to buy a drink.
“I walked outside and saw a blur, that’s how fast the truck was travelling down George Street – like an exocet missile it was going that fast,” he told the Argus.
“Everything exploded in front of me, it was shocking.”
But Mr White was so concerned about the critical incident he rang the police on Wednesday afternoon asking for an explanation as to why they thought it was a good idea to stop the truck with spikes at Singleton’s ‘hole in the wall’ railway underpass.
“Of course they wouldn’t comment but we as a community need to know why they chose that spot when there is 47 kilometres of highway between Muswellbrook and Singleton that may have been a much safer option,” he said.
Mr White was so upset he contacted the Singleton Argus saying he wanted to know if the police had a plan B when the truck failed to stop soon after it hit the road spikes.
“With three pubs, two service stations, three coffee shop plus heavy traffic and pedestrians imagine what could have happened – the risks from their decision to stop the truck where they did were huge,” he said.
“Obviously the truck driver didn’t care but we pay the police to protect us and that decision yesterday raises serious questions about their ability to do just that protect the community. Was stopping the truck at Rixs Creek or Camberwell ever considered?”
While George Street has been reopened, it will be another day or two before business returns to usual.
George Street will remain 40km/h zone while road works are undertaken.
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