Complete destruction. Crumpled cars and debris littered the streets, reminiscent of a war zone. Two highway patrol vehicles parked in the road, lights flaring. Then: the blaze.
Clifton Brett was at the scene of a fiery truck crash in Singleton’s main street on Wednesday morning.
The truck, allegedly stolen while it was being refuelled at a Murrurundi service station, was understood to be on its way to Tamworth loaded with mushroom compost.
Officers have alleged they sighted the vehicle driving erratically south on the New England Highway, through Muswellbrook and towards Singleton.
Police caught up with the vehicle, but have said that it was not safe to attempt to pull the vehicle over.
A short pursuit was initiated near Singleton Heights, where tyre spikes were deployed to bring the truck to a stop, but it ploughed into the township of Singleton, colliding with cars and buildings in its path.
The driver was arrested at the scene.
Amid the chaos, Clifton Brett broadcast what he saw on Facebook as first responders raced to help people in crumpled vehicles, police ushered onlookers away from danger, and the truck engulfed itself in flame.
The video has been viewed more than 200,000 times.
Meanwhile, seven ambulances raced to George Street after a member of the public called 000. Paramedics treated eight people at the scene. Five had to be transported.
Two people have been airlifted to John Hunter Hospital – one, a 67 year-old-man in a critical condition who suffered injuries to his head, chest and legs, and a second 62 year-old woman suffering pelvic and hip injuries.
Her condition has been reported as stable.
“It seems that the people involved were just going about their usual morning business, having coffee along the main street when this accident happened out of nowhere,”NSW Ambulance inspector Luke Wiseman.
In his address, Hunter Valley acting commander inspector Robert Post described the manner of driving as “reckless to say the least”.
Police launched a critical incident investigation, which will be subject to independent review, this morning. The investigation will look into the circumstances of the crash, including the deployment of tyre spikes.