“I NEED a smoke — have you got a match?”
As John Hungerford called triple zero after a truck smashed into his business and stopped metres from his house, the driver’s simple request for a cigarette seemed out of place.
To Newlyn’s Mr Hungerford, the calm question at his back door was in stark contrast to the cacophony that had befallen his usually quiet side garden.
His business of 17 years had been destroyed.
Creswick Police Leading Senior Constable Geoff Davies said the empty livestock B-double was heading south when it left the Midland Highway for “unknown reasons” just after 2am.
He said it ploughed through trees, a power pole and Newlyn Antiques — causing damage of up to $80,000.
Leading Senior Constable Davies said the Hungerfords — who owned the destroyed business — were lucky to escape with their lives.
“Given different circumstances, the truck could have perhaps gone through part of the house,” he said.
“If it was a heavier load, the momentum might have carried it into the house — I would say they are very lucky.”
The truck driver, a man in his 50s, was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital with minor injuries.
Mr Hungerford and his wife were fast asleep when the heavy vehicle ploughed through their shop.
At first, the business owner was woken by a sound he believed to be “louder than a possum”.
“I ran inside and rang triple zero ... I said there’s a truck run into my house and there might be a body in it,” he said.
After going back outside for a look, Mr Hungerford saw the driver and went back to call the ambulance again. He then heard a knock at his back door.
“He (the driver) said ‘I need a smoke. Have you got a match?’”
“He asked if there was anyone in the shed, then he said ‘thank God, I thought I killed someone’.”
Mr Hungerford said the impact sounded more like a “rumble” than a crash, but conceded his army background might have desensitised him to an extent.
“Everybody else in the neighbourhood heard it — they heard it from two kilometres away,” he said.
“I think my wife’s a bit more shaken than I am.”
CFA, SES, and police attended the scene and helped remove countless pieces of damaged furniture and antiques.
Police said investigations into the crash were continuing.