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NSW trucking company raided following fatal crash

Eight major defects found and several trucks seized for further investigation


New South Wales police issued eight defect notices to AK Group Trucking during a raid on Monday following last week’s fatal crash that killed two in Sydney’s west.

Following investigation at the crash site, Traffic and Highway Command officers issued a search warrant for the company’s Kemps Creek depot where they examined the company’s 14 trucks.

Two trucks were found to have major mechanical and brake issues, fuel leaks, and multiple minor defects.

Some of the trucks were seized and taken to the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS’s) Wetherill Park facility for further examination.

The officers also examined driver log books to check the company’s fatigue management practices.

“What we’ve seen this morning is very poor evidence of fatigue management,” Superintendent Stuart Smith says.

“Those documents that we’ve seized this morning will form part of a chain of responsibility investigation.

“The evidence that we’ve found certainly suggests that there are some major fatigue breaches in some of the trucks that we’ve investigated this morning.”

Officers are also believed to have found an allegedly stolen car at the premises.

Meanwhile, AK Group director Ammar Kejer has brushed off claims that the company and its drivers did not obey fatigue laws, and that the driver was working within the permitted 12-hour work limit.

Kejer says the company has been unfairly treated, adding that the officers did not in fact find any issues with the fleet.

“They couldn’t find any problems, they just make [my job] hard,” Kejer says.

“They didn’t call me to say they were coming, they just came at 5 o’clock in the morning.”

“He was one of the best drivers in Sydney and he was driving the best truck in Sydney,” he said.

“They’ve got all his diary books, they couldn’t find [anything] wrong.”

Further investigations will be conducted to determine whether the company will be charged over last week’s crash in which drivers Chris Blake and Peter Cardilini were killed.

Blake’s semi-trailer collided with Cardilini’s truck, who was driving for Austral Bricks, before both the vehicles burst into flames.

Brickworks Ltd, Austral’s parent company, MD Lindsay Partridge has earlier stated that the truck Cardilini was driving had been inspected by RMS less than 48 hours before the accident.

So far, there is no evidence to prove that Austral or its truck was directly responsible for the accident.

Traffic & Highway Patrol Command’s acting assistant commissioner David Driver says operators must be aware of their responsibilities and ensure safety practices are in place at all times.

“Sadly, in light of the tragedy on our road last week, Traffic and Highway Patrol and Roads and Maritime Services Inspectors have had to come together again to ensure those involved are operating their fleets safely on our roads,” Driver says.

“With defects, fatigue, and other issues identified, we will work closely with Roads and Maritime Services to ensure operators are complying in the hope that we can prevent future tragic events occurring on NSW roads.

“Operators should be aware of their obligations, it is too late when the police turn up at your depot.”

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