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DOWN UNDER TRUCKING: Murder-Suicide Probe Into Deadly Head-On Truck/Car Crash


Homicide squad assigned to investigate fatal truck/car crash that left mother and four children dead

A fatal crash on Monday night in which a mother and her four children died in a head-on collision with a truck is now being investigated by homicide detectives as a potential multiple murder-suicide.

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart told reporters yesterday, "this is just an absolute tragedy that's almost too big for words when you lose a whole family in this way, particularly young children whose lives are just lost."

The Commissioner then confirmed that homicide detectives [are now] working on this case as there was "a potential intention for someone to die. This will take some time and, obviously, the Coroner has a very great interest in the outcome of that investigation."

Local media reports indicate that additional police resources have been assigned to the investigation.

Queensland Police said in a statement earlier this week that, at about 7:20 p.m. local time on Monday night, a Nissan station wagon was traveling south on the Bunya Highway. The car was being driven by Charmaine Harris McLeod, 35. Also in the car were her four children, Aaleyn (6), Matilda (5), Wyatt (4) and Zaidok (2).

The four McLeod children who died as a result of Monday night's traffic incident.

At that location the road was an undivided highway with one southbound and one northbound lane. Ms. McLeod pulled out from the southbound lane into the northbound lane to pass another vehicle. However, her car was then hit by an oncoming truck.

Police said that both the truck and the car caught fire. Nearby dry grassland was also set on fire.

The truck that collided with the McLeod's car rolled off the road and was burned out. Photo still from video broadcast by the national state broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Local media pictures show a burnt-out car run off the tarmac and lying in a depression at the side of the road. The heavy freight vehicle also rolled onto its side, although the prime mover stayed on the road while the trailer rolled off it.

The truck driver, 47, crawled through a window to escape his burning cab. He ran into the flames engulfing the car in a desperate attempt to carry out a rescue. He suffered burns to his arms and a cut to his head. He was later sent to Kingaroy Hospital for treatment.

Ms. McLeod and three of her children died at the scene. One of her girls was rescued from the burning car by emergency workers and was sent to Kingaroy Hospital with life-threatening injuries. She was then flown to Queensland Children's Hospital in a critical condition but, en-route, she succumbed to her injuries and died.

Inspector Graeme Paine of the Queensland Police, who attended the scene, described the crash as a "high-speed impact."

The incident took place a short distance south of Kumbia, a small town about 118 miles southeast of the McLeod family home in Hervey Bay, Queensland. Kumbia is also about 101 miles northwest of the state capital, Brisbane.

Police have appealed for witnesses and for dash cam evidence.

Druggy truckie jailed for 14 months

A drug-taking trucker who smashed into several trees after an 11-hour shift behind the wheel was sentenced by local magistrates to 14 months in jail.

He was also fined A$6,550 and was disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Truck driver Luke Taralaikov, 38, had finished hauling a load of pine posts to a vineyard. While driving home he fell asleep at the wheel just before mid-day. His prime mover crossed the road and hit a stand of trees.

Police attended the scene shortly after and found Taralaikov with injuries to his head, pelvis and legs. He was taken to hospital where it was discovered he had the drug Ice (crystal methamphetamine) in his system. Crystal meth is a stimulant that induces feelings of pleasure and confidence along with increased alertness and energy.

Police then found crystal meth and a glass pipe in his truck. Police also discovered that he had been driving without regular rest, and had not made any entries in his work diary on the day of the crash.

NZ logistician Mainfreight reports NZ$2.95 billion revenues

Mainfreight (NZX: MFT) of Auckland, New Zealand, has reported revenues generated in the 12 months to March 2019 of NZ$2.95 billion (US$1.93 billion) which is an increase of NZ$337.39 million, or 12.9 percent, on the previous year.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization stood at NZ$257 million, which is up NZ$41.94 million, or 19.5 percent, on the 12 months to March 2019. Net profit after tax (before abnormals) was NZ$141.08 million, up NZ$29.08 million, or 26 percent.

The majority of the company's revenues were generated in New Zealand and Australia.

Mainfreight generated revenues of NZ$718.79 million (up 7.9 percent) from New Zealand. The group attributed New Zealand's solid performance to intensification of its branch network.

"We now have a branch network... which extends from urban centres into regional areas with populations less than 20,000. As a result, delivery times and quality have improved, and we have been able to secure new customers, including providing import and export services from many regional locations never before serviced by Mainfreight," the company said.

In Australia the group generated A$710.17 million (US$493 million), up A$86.90 million, or 13.9 percent, on the prior period. The group said that the business started slowly for the year but led to satisfactory results. Opening new warehouses enabled the business to generate more domestic freight tonnage, the group said. New warehouses are planned for Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Mainfreight's air and ocean freight improved their sales growth and profitability over the year.

Pictured: New Zealand dollars; Photo: Shutterstock

Notorious bridge claims another trucking victim

A clearance of 3.8 meters (12.47 feet) sounds like a lot. And it is. But it's evidently not enough for Aussie truck drivers.

Perth's notorious, nay, infamous, Bayswater Bridge has claimed another trucking victim. Earlier this week, the 36th vehicle to get stuck under the Bayswater Bridge got, er, stuck. A glass-delivery truck got good and properly wedged under the bridge a few days ago. It's just the second wedged freight vehicle this month. A prime mover / trailer combo got stuck on May 17.

It's not like the bridge is new to the area. It's been there for about 100 years.

And it's not like the bridge isn't well-known for causing trucks to get stuck. There's even a local blog dedicated to vehicles getting stuck under the bridge.

The reason why trucks keep getting stuck seems to be a bit of a mystery. There is, after all, a lot of signage. The local transport authority even painted a red and white striped pattern warning truckers and installed a solar-powered LED flashing sign on the sign of the bridge.

According to the local transport authority, a truck promptly crashed into the bridge and dislodged the flashing sign.

The sign read: "be careful, low bridge."

A truck/bridge strike at the Bayswater Bridge, Perth, Australia of May 17, 2019. Photo: by Twitter user Rashas Moustaches.

Freight as a percentage of final commodity costs revealed

A major study commissioned by the government-funded  organization AgriFutures Australia has revealed the freight costs of a wide number of agricultural commodities that are exported from Australia.

Logistics from paddock to port are often the single largest cost of many exported agri-commodities.

"Knowing how much farmers pay for transporting their produce to consumers is crucial to measure the competitiveness of Australian farmers and to find out where the transport of agricultural goods faces pinch points and bottlenecks. The report shows that Australia has comparatively higher freight costs for many of our key commodities compared to our international competitors and it's hurting our bottom line," said AgriFutures Australia Managing Director John Harvey.

"In Australia, freight costs are relatively highest for grains and fruit/vegetables, which represent 27.5 percent and 21 percent of gross value added product (GVAP), respectively. By comparison, poultry, which has more localised supply chains, has the lowest relative farm freight costs, totaling 1.0 percent of GVAP," the study says.

Several examples were given. Beef freight from the Dalby region of Queensland to South Korea by sea cost A$343 per metric ton to the export destination. A metric ton is equivalent to 2,204.6 U.S. pounds. Milk powder freight from Western Victoria to Singapore by sea cost A$391 per metric ton. Cherries freighted from the island of Tasmania to China by air cost A$1,370 per metric ton.

The report's authors, Deloitte Access Economics, estimates the Australian freight task at 3.3 million vehicle movements and nearly 400,000 rail wagons per year.

Image sourced from Pixabay

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