Patience Bulk Haulage driver named Highway Guardian

Courageous response to ute crash leads to accolade

Patience Bulk Haulage driver named Highway Guardian
A WA driver's heroic actions have been recognised


A truck driver who escaped a head-on collision and helped an injured driver has been recognised with the Highway Guardian Award for his actions.

Lou Morunga from Patience Bulk Haulage in Western Australia was driving a triple road train loaded with iron ore on the Great Northern Highway 200km from Port Hedland in April when a ute headed straight towards him from the opposite direction.

Morunga’s quick thinking saw him swerve off the road, avoiding a head-on collision, with the car catching the edge of his cab, sending both vehicles into a spin.

He managed to safely bring his vehicle to a halt after hitting a culvert which ripped the bull bar and bonnet off the truck.

The steering box and steer column were also sheared.

With oil, coolant and diesel spilling from the prime mover, Morunga used his radio to alert other trucks on the highway of the accident. He then kept the injured driver conscious until medical help arrived, using his own shirt to pillow the driver’s injuries.

Morunga stayed at the scene and assisted with the recovery of both vehicles after the driver was taken to hospital.

Award organiser the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and sponsor Bridgestone praised Morunga for his efforts.

ATA chair Noelene Watson says Morunga’s skill and experience enabled him to think quickly and protect other road users.

"In a situation like this, it takes a lot of experience to know just how far you can push your equipment and what options are available to you," Watson says.

"Lou’s quick actions and skilled driving enabled him to avoid a catastrophic head-on collision and save the life of a fellow road user.

"He also showed great compassion by staying with the injured driver and providing immediate aid and comfort until medical professionals could get to the scene."

Bridgestone Australia managing director Andrew Moffatt says Morunga’s bravery and selfless nature made him an ideal candidate for the award.

"His quick-thinking and willingness to help speak volumes, not only for Lou but for the many members of the trucking community that routinely go out of their way to help others," Moffatt says.

"Bridgestone is enormously pleased that Lou has been announced as the second ever Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award recipient.

"We are extremely proud supporters of this ATA initiative which helps recognise some of the best people in the trucking industry."

Morunga says he’s no hero but did what any truck driver would have done.

"I’m just glad I lived to tell the tale, and him (the driver) as well," Morunga says.

"If it had been another kilometre down the road, it would have been a very different story – that part goes over a bridge.

"I just ran to the driver – he didn’t look too good but I couldn’t get him out or anything because of the damage.

"Staying with him just seemed like the decent thing to do."

Morunga will be hosted to the ATA’s national Trucking Australia event in March and honoured by the industry at the ATA Foundation Sponsors Gala Dinner.

A driver can be acknowledged with the Highway Guardian Award at any time during the year.

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