A fully-laden double fuel tanker overturned in a short, straight, three-laned section of the highway between Katoomba and Medlow Bath in the early hours of Sunday, May 12.
The giant rig owned by Orange-based Ron Finemores Transport was being driven west when it veered onto the road shoulder and overturned down an embankment, coming to rest with the twin tankers upside down.
An ambulance spokesman said the driver, a 34-year-old Millthorpe man, was able to free himself from his wrecked cabin and clambered back to the roadway where one of the first on the scene was an off-duty paramedic.
He was taken to Katoomba Hospital and treated for minor facial injuries.
Inspector Tom Clarkstone, from NSW Fire and Rescue, said it was “a bad situation that could have been much, much worse.”
He said not only had the driver had an amazing escape but the tankers did not rupture despite rolling against steel fence posts.
The rig also uprooted a power pole and while live high voltage power lines remained dangling perilously close to the tankers there was no contact.
Had this occurred the entire rig would have been ‘live’ posing an additional risk to the driver and rescuers and increasing the likelihood of fire, he said.
Firefighters and RMS crews remained on the scene until the last of the fuel was pumped into another tanker by 4 pm.
One lane of the three lane section of highway was closed all day and there were further traffic disruptions while the rig was salvaged