‘Didn’t even feel it go over’: crash driver can't explain M1 shocker

A truck driver who caused an epic traffic jam after overturning his semi-trailer on the M1 at Cataract says he doesn’t remember the moment he came unstuck. 

Gregory Thomas Foale, 66, was transporting a shipping container of pet food from Port Botany to Nowra on October 7 last year, when his truck rolled on a bend three kilometres north of Picton Road.

The cabin was forced into the air, leaving Foale on his back, buckled to his seat, four metres off the ground. 

Documents considered by Wollongong Local Court on Monday show Foale was unable to explain how he got in this position, when questioned by police in the immediate aftermath. 

'The next thing I know, I ended up like this'

“I was in the left hand lane,” he told them. “I was doing about maybe 30 or 40 kilometres. I have rounded the bend and come up the hill and the next thing I know, I ended up like this. I didn’t even feel it go over. Nothing at all. And then I climbed out.” 

He later told police he may have “missed a gear”. Police allege the crash was fatigue-related.

Authorities audited Foale’s log book and found five breaches, mostly relating to incomplete record-keeping, and one count of making a false or misleading entry. 

Foale did not give evidence at Monday’s hearing. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of negligent driving. 

He told police he left Ingleburn in the WSI Transport truck about 3.45am. 

But lawyer Graeme Morrison told the court his client spent much of the morning waiting at Sydney International Container Terminal. 

“My client didn’t actually leave [the terminal] until approximately 7.30am,” Mr Morrison said. “At the time [of the crash] … he had spent less than two hours driving. 

“It’s the case [authorities] took his log book and went through it with a very finetooth comb. [Leaving a field blank] is hardly the world’s worst offence with regard to a log book.” 

Magistrate O’Conner noted Foale’s limited driving record, after three decades on the road. 

“Maybe the explanation was what the defendant said – that he must have missed a gear – but what really is concerning the court was that he appeared to have a lapse of consciousness. He didn’t seem to know where he was. His vehicle was ... three or four metres off the ground and he was endeavoring to start it in that position.” 

Foale was convicted and fined $1000 for negligent driving and $500 for each of his other charges. He was not disqualified from driving.  

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