1989 Road transport, December 22, Kempsey
Two full tourist coaches collided head-on in the early morning at Clybucca Flat, 12km north of Kempsey, leaving 35 dead and 41 injured. The coaches concertinaed into each other, killing both drivers instantly. The impact snapped seats from their anchor bolts so that both seats & passengers were hurled about the vehicles with terrific force, which also trapped people & their luggage against the back of the bus.
The force of the
impact left the McCafferty's Sydney-bound (south) coach in the cabin of the
TransCity Brisbane-bound (north) coach. The Sydney coach was
forced 5 rows back into the other. The accident triggered a major immediate
response as police, SES & volunteer rescuers, fire brigades & paramedics
attended the accident.
A fleet of air ambulances & helicopters carried the injured to hospitals at Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour & Sydney. A NSW Coroner's inquiry into the coach collision found that the McCafferty driver fell asleep at the wheel. The driver failed to negotiate a left-hand bend on the highway & the coach crossed to the wrong side & collided with the TransCity coach.
renewed calls for a dual-carriageway highway between Newcastle & the
Queensland border, following 21 deaths in a coach/semi-trailer accident at
Cowper, north of Grafton in October, 1990 (see ID 5319). The coroner also
recommended research into coach seats, seat anchorages & seatbelts. Better
emergency exits for coaches were also recommended, as rescuers were unable to
enter the wreckage immediately because the exits were 2.4m above the ground.