Call averts tragedy as ute is stuck on rail near Cairns
A FRANTIC call by a quick-thinking witness averted disaster yesterday after a car became stuck on railway tracks, just minutes before a train was scheduled to come through.
The driver, aged about 30, is believed to have suffered a medical condition just before his Ford Falcon utility veered off the Bruce Highway and on to the tracks about 9.20am.
The vehicle skidded for about 150m before the vehicle became jammed.
The Sunlander train departed Cairns station at 9.15am but Queensland Rail was alerted to the stranded motorist by a call from a member of the public and drivers were able to stop the train about 6km north of where the car was trapped.
Queensland Rail acting track maintenance supervisor Mark Farrawell, who inspected the track after the incident, said trains such as the Sunlander had a stopping distance of about 2km.
"If it had come along at that speed and was unaware of it, it would have definitely hit the car," he said.
Weipa pair Alex Davis and Michelle Radlot had been travelling to Mission Beach and were driving beside the man's car when they watched it leave the road and travel down the line over a gully.
They stopped to help the driver.
"He only got faster as he left the road. He was spinning out as he got to the bridge (at the gully)," Mr Davis told The Cairns Post.
"As we got there, he had his foot jammed on the pedal and he was fitting. We were trying to pull the car off the tracks."
Edmonton police Sgt Stephen Brooks said the situation could have been much worse.
"He was very lucky because he exited the roadway and once he got on the railway line it kept him going straight," he said.
The ute driver was in a stable condition in Cairns Base Hospital last night.
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Close call: Police and rail crews help to shift the Ford Falcon utility which veered off the Bruce Highway and on to railway tracks. Police: ANNA ROGERS