RACQ CareFlight work quickly to get the casualties from the three vehicle crash at Ballandean to hospital. Photo courtesy of RACQ CareFlight.
RACQ CareFlight work quickly to get the casualties from the three vehicle crash at Ballandean to hospital. Photo courtesy of RACQ CareFlight. Racq Careflight

Grandmother speaks of crash shock

THE grandmother of the truck driver involved in Wednesday's fatal crash near Ballandean has spoken of panic after hearing about the accident.

Margaret Shorter of Armidale said her grandson Robbie, who survived the crash uninjured, was back in the Southern Downs to speak to police officers yesterday as Forensic Crash Unit investigations into the three-vehicle incident continued.

Mr Shorter was not available for comment but the Daily News noted the profile photo on his Facebook page was of the crash.

The incident happened at about 3.10pm on Wednesday when Stanthorpe Police say a four-wheel-drive swerved to miss two vehicles stopped on the New England Highway.

According to police, the first of the two stopped vehicles was indicating to turn right and the four-wheel- drive swerved and collided with a Mitsubishi sedan carrying five backpackers, who were travelling from their work on a farm in Ballandean to the Blue Topaz Caravan Park where they were staying.

A truck following the four-wheel-drive jackknifed in an attempt to avoid the other vehicles.

The driver of the sedan, a 26-year-old Korean, was killed instantly.

The four remaining occupants were all injured.

RACQ CareFlight transported a 28-year-old Korean man to Princess Alexandra Hospital with life-threatening head and chest injuries after he had to be removed from the vehicle using the “jaws of life”. He was still in intensive care yesterday afternoon.

Another CareFlight helicopter took two Korean men, both in their 20s, to Gold Coast Hospital. One of the men is said to be stable, while the other's condition was unknown.

An RACQ CareFlight spokeswoman said: “One man had facial lacerations and chest injuries, and the second had facial injuries. Both were in a stable condition during flight.”

The fourth man, a Japanese man in his early 20s, was taken to Stanthorpe Hospital where he is in a stable condition.

The driver and one of the passengers in the four-wheel-drive were uninjured, though two other female passengers were taken to Stanthorpe Hospital.

No names have yet been released.

Owners and guests at Severnlea's Blue Topaz Caravan Park were trying to come to terms with the loss of one of their backpackers, friends said yesterday.

Blue Topaz owner Sue Carter said the Severnlea caravan park was shocked by the loss.

As events unfolded on Wednesday afternoon, she said the park was fraught with tension as they counted the cars coming home after the crash.

“Another car of backpackers was still missing and we were so worried. Thankfully they had just got lost on the detour,” she said.

“Everybody here does bond together and it's very, very sad.

The group of Koreans had been at the campsite since September 24 and the Japanese man arrived a month ago.

Investigations are ongoing.

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