The Daily Telegraph - Friday 7 October, 2005

Killing Machine

The monster truck that claimed the life of a 3-year-old boy

By Lillian Saleh

Call for ban ... the modified 4WD after the fatal accident

at South Windsor. The dead boy's mother sat on the road and sang

to him as a doctor tried to revive him.  Picture: JUSTIN LLOYD

THE death of a three-year-old boy -- killed by this modified 4WD on an ordinary suburban street -- has prompted calls from road safety experts for an immediate ban on the vehicles.


A family's holiday turned to tragedy when their son was knocked down by the raised Toyota Hilux after the boy darted across traffic towards his mother on George St, South Windsor.


Witnesses yesterday told The Daily Telegraph the boy's distraught mother sat on the road clutching his hand singing songs to him as a local doctor desperately tried to revive him shortly before 4.30pm on Wednesday.


There is no suggestion the driver of the 4WD did anything wrong -- police have laid no

charges, and the boy ran in front of the traffic. But road safety experts yesterday seized on the size and visibility of such an elevated 4WD, asking why these vehicles are allowed on the road.


Minutes before the accident, the toddler's mother had parked the family's Mitsubishi van on the southern side of George St before crossing the road with her son and entering a fruit shop.


Witnesses said the mother -- on holidays with her family from Upwey in Victoria -- noticed her son was missing and looked across the road and found him near the van.


“She was calling out to him and telling him to stay near the van when he just ran out from the front of it,” cake store owner Steve Findlater said.


After hitting the boy, the red, raised 4WD stopped about 30m up the road. Witnesses said the driver was initially unaware he had hit the boy and only became aware when told so by his passenger.


“She [the doctor] worked on him until the ambulance arrived but we could tell he wasn't all right,” a still shocked Mr Findlater said.


“His mum was holding his hand, singing to him but we could just see he was losing colour.”

The toddler was rushed by ambulance to the Hawkesbury District Hospital where he died a short time later.


Road safety experts yesterday labelled the monster vehicles “death machines” and called on them to be banned from suburban areas. President of the Australasian College of Road Safety, Associate Professor Raphael Grzebieta, said driving a raised 4WD was akin to driving a small truck or piece of machinery.


“You can't see anyone underneath you when they are close to the vehicle and they have their blindspots like small trucks and machinery,” the Monash University civil engineering lecturer said.


The NSW Parliamentary Stay Safe Committee and the Pedestrian Council of NSW yesterday also called for the raised vehicles to be banned.


“Once you start fiddling with raising the cars above what the manufacturers specify, you turn them into death machines and they have no relevance being on any road, let alone one in suburbia,” Pedestrian Council of NSW president Harold Scruby said.


Stay Safe Committee chairman Paul Gibson said: “It's a frightening situation and one that must be addressed. We either ban them or stipulate you need a special licence to drive them.


Head of the 4WD NSW/ACT Association Rob Kelly said yesterday calls to ban the vehicles from roads was “just rubbish”.


Should these cars be allowed on the road? Tell us at:

© This work is copyright and is reproduced under licence from News Limited