Grandmother’s shock as her car ‘went airborne’ at 100kmh

LUCKY ESCAPE: Tracey Sampson with her husband Scott at the scene where she ran over a fallen light pole on the Sunshine Motorway.
LUCKY ESCAPE: Tracey Sampson with her husband Scott at the scene where she ran over a fallen light pole on the Sunshine Motorway. John McCutcheon

DRIVING at high speed on the Sunshine Mwy with her 12-week-old grandson on board, the last thing Tracey Sampson expected was to end up flying through the air.

But that's what happened on a night in December 2014 she'll never forget, when her car hit a light pole that she said had been lying on the motorway.

Mrs Sampson, now 43, said the terrifying event had shocked her to the core, and the mystery of how the light pole came to be there still haunted her.

The Coolum Beach resident had been driving south on the motorway that evening with baby Otis, now 2, and her husband Scott, when she said she noticed hazard lights on her left.

Moving into the right lane to give the vehicle on her left space, Mrs Sampson noticed too late that a woman was waving her arms, signalling her to stop. Mrs Sampson then hit a light pole that had apparently fallen from the centre of the motorway into the right lane, flinging her car into the air.

"We went airborne," Mrs Sampson said.

"The police said I was very lucky to control it. It was terrifying.

"I swore, and I just remember holding on to the steering wheel as hard as I could."

The car smashed to the ground, hitting so hard the impact took chunks out of each of the four mag wheels and bent the front of the Commodore. It was a write-off, Mrs Sampson said.

Her tiny grandson and her husband were unharmed.

"There were witnesses at the scene who saw the light explode and fall," she said.

The Commodore her husband paid $9000 for was uninsured. To make things worse, a debilitating case of carpel tunnel syndrome in Mrs Sampson's hands has returned since the accident.

Seven months before the Sunshine Mwy accident, an operation, at a cost of $4000 which took her 18 months to save, had effectively treated her condition.

Immediately after the accident, it had returned in force, she said, making everyday actions agonising.

Mrs Sampson has hired a lawyer and said she was considering legal action against the Department of Transport and Main Roads, which she claimed had refused to answer questions.

The legal process may be too costly to pursue, she said, but she still wanted answers for the sake of public safety.

A spokesman for electricity provider Energex said that to his knowledge all lights on the Sunshine Motorway were the responsibility of the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. Sunshine Coast Council also directed the inquiry to the department.

A department spokeswoman said comment would not be provided due to legal proceedings.

Topics:  accident crash editors picks nicky moffat sunshine motorway traffic

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