A Tasmanian coroner has lauded a man from the state’s South for his brave attempts to save the life of a Launceston-born truck driver.
In her report on the death of Michael Robert Thompson, 55, who was killed in a single-vehicle crash at Tea Tree on December 14, 2017, Coroner Olivia McTaggart praised David Blackwell, who she said “placed himself in immediate danger” in an effort to move the critically injured Mr Thompson out of the way of fallen power lines.
“He then assisted with first aid and provided reassurance to Mr Thompson until further assistance arrived,” Ms McTaggart said.
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Mr Blackwell was preparing to mow his front lawn at 729 Tea Tree Road at Tea Tree when he witnessed the crash. He immediately ran inside and called triple 0.
“I then ran up to the accident,” Mr Blackwell said in his affidavit. “There were about 11 people standing around on the road near the truck.”
“Nearly all of them had their phones out and were filming the accident but no one had gone down to the truck.”
Two fallen power lines were dangling “a couple of inches” above Mr Thompson’s head. Mr Blackwell kicked one of them away and then picked up a large splinter from the damaged telegraph pole, slid it under the other power line and laid it on a rock to keep it away from Mr Thompson.
Mr Thompson, who had been driving trucks for 18 years, was working for Best Mix Concrete at the time of his death.
He was driving in the west-bound lane of Tea Tree Road on his way to Old Beach about 10.10am when he failed to negotiate a right-hand curve.
“The truck … tipped onto its passenger side and hit an embankment,” Ms McTaggart said.
It’s likely Mr Thompson was flung through the windscreen of the truck when it made contact with the embankment.
He was eventually taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital, where he later died as a result of his injuries. An autopsy found that he had no alcohol or illicit drugs in his system.
Mr Thompson’s death was attributed to multiple injuries sustained in the crash, including several rib fractures, a laceration of the liver and a contusion of the heart muscle.
Ms McTaggart said she was satisfied that Mr Thompson had died as a result of his “excessive speed for the road in question” and what appeared to be his failure to wear a seatbelt.
Best Mix operator Andrea Jackman said Mr Thompson’s death had had a profound impact on all staff.
“We miss him dearly,” she said. “Michael was always at the plant first thing in the morning, had the loader out ready to go, kettle boiled for his mates and ready to go to work.”
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