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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

No detour signs at Mullum accident site

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On Friday morning March 28, a tragic and fatal accident occurred near Sherrys Bridge on Main Arm Road. A vehicle and its occupant were washed off the road and into the raging river engorged by waters from heavy rain overnight.

The vehicle was trapped under the bridge. A woman lost her life as a result.

This section of Main Arm Road is a black spot and accidents and deaths have occurred here in the past in flood conditions.

As usual volunteers from all services were involved, as well as police, ambulance and the Westpac helicopter in the recovery on Saturday morning.

They all did what they do best and we are grateful to have such dedicated folk giving up their time in order to assist those in need.

Many vehicles going into and out of Mullumbimby were held up for up to four hours while the recovery of the car and search for its occupant took place.

People were forced to return to Mullum and drive via Billinudgel and the Pocket Road to access the Main Arm, likewise those trying to get to Mullum had to turn back to Main Arm village and use the Pocket Road via Billinudgel to get to town.

So be it. Everyone dealt with it with good grace and understanding, knowing a tragedy had occurred and emergency services were doing their best to deal with it.

However, would it have been possible for emergency service personal to place signs stating ‘Detour Road Closed’, or place SES personnel  at the Mullumbimby end of Main Arm Road and at Main Arm village, diverting traffic and thereby avoiding congestion at the accident site?

This is a suggestion that came up repeatedly amongst residents during their wait for the road to reopen on Saturday.

Had there been signs or personnel in place we, and many others, would have taken the detour and thereby avoided this distressing scene and the congestion around it.

As this is the third time an incident like this has occurred on Main Arm road in recent months, could emergency personnel please take into consideration this suggestion should an unfortunate event like this ever occur again?

Traffic management on our busy roads at times such as this, as well as recovery, really should be considered in future.

This is also a good opportunity to remind people to drive with care and never attempt to drive or walk through flood waters.

Peter Leishman, Upper Main Arm

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