Two-vehicle traffic crash on Gin Gin Rd in South Kolan.
Two-vehicle traffic crash on Gin Gin Rd in South Kolan. mike knott

DEADLY STRETCH: Questions surface after tragic fatalities

LONG-time South Kolan resident Stephen Ratcliffe sent an email to authorities asking questions about upgrade work on the Bundaberg Gin Gin Rd weeks before Monday's tragic double fatality.

Yesterday, Mr Ratcliffe aired his frustrations about the section of road which claimed the life of his friend, Leisa Purkis and her 12-year-old daughter Emerson.

The 73 year old provided his email history, which showed correspondence to the Department of Main Roads on September 11, in which he enquired when a large section, incorporating the crash site, would be upgraded.

Works along the stretch where the crash occurred was one of a number of questions he asked.

Yesterday he called on the department to address long-term safety issues in the wake of Monday's tragedy.

So far this year four people have died in crashes on the road.

On Monday the Department of Main Roads issued a statement to the NewsMail after another resident, David Walker, raised concerns about the road's condition.


Emerson and Leisa Purvis.
Emerson and Leisa Purvis. Contributed

"We have not received reports of recent potholes along this road from the public, but we are working with police, while also carrying out an independent departmental investigation," a spokesman said.

"Our investigation will consider factors including the road design and visibility, while police will review road factors along with broader issues such as driver behaviour." Yesterday, the department said "Mr Ratcliffe contacted our Bundaberg office in September about privately-funded developer works for a new residential estate on Bundaberg-Gin Gin Road.

"He also enquired if there were future works planned for a three-kilometre section of road between Sharon and South Kolan.

"He did not report any issues with the road surface.

"We must carefully prioritise projects to ensure funds are directed to areas identifying the safety and capacity needs across the state."

Having lived along the road for more than 18 years, Mr Ratcliffe knows the road like the back of his hand. He said he only had to go to the bottom of his driveway to find the first "rather large hole".

He wants to see uneven areas of the road corrected, wider sections put in and speed limits reduced for safety.

"When you get up to Woods Road, where the accident occurred just past there, the road isn't wide enough," he said.

He said he'd seen plenty of near misses.

"The road needs widening, it needs doing up properly right the way through this area where we live up to the 80 limit where it is a bit better," Mr Ratcliffe said.

"The state of the road, it's surface itself, from Sharon just after the Sharon road junction, it deteriorates there.

"I'm amazed there hasn't been accidents on that stretch as it is narrow."

The main concern he focused on in the September email addressed the design of the entrance to a new estate that's being built just past Sharon, a few kilometres from the crash site.

"I put in a complaint that the entrance was too close to the bends, TMR's answer to that was rip the trees down again," Mr Ratcliffe said.

"That was basically it, they did that ... then modified the amount of trees that had to come down and they pulled a few more - an improvement but not the best."

Mr Ratcliffe said he was friends with Leisa and her husband, who were well known in the area.

He said he hoped the authorities would fix the road before another tragedy.

On Monday, Mr Walker said the road was full of potholes and ruts.

"All the pot holes and ruts from the sugar trucks carting all the time, I use both ways (of Bundaberg Gin Gin Rd) and even over Cedars crossing is really bad," he said.

A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said every death or serious injury on the road was one too many.

"It is standard departmental procedure to investigate all fatalities on the state road network.

"An investigation is being undertaken by police into Monday's tragic crash on Bundaberg-Gin Gin Road near the Woods Road intersection, Sharon.

"If the investigation establishes any road factors were involved, we will act to address these."

"A recent routine inspection along Bundaberg-Gin Gin Road did not indicate any sections requiring immediate action.

"Investigations into the fatal crash at South Kolan in January, about two kilometres from this week's crash, concluded there were no road contributing factors."

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