Dramatic footage captures truck fireball explosion
ASTONISHING new dashcam footage has emerged of the moment a stolen fertiliser truck which was tailed closely by police for over 100kms exploded into several vehicles and a heritage building in the Hunter Valley region last year, injuring eight people and leaving the main street of Singleton looking like it had sustained air strikes.
The dramatic new footage not only offers a front-row seat to the fiery finale of the police chase which began at a BP petrol station at Murrurundi over 100kms from Singleton, but also captures the moment the alleged truck thief is cornered and wrestles with police in another truck he had sought refuge in.
In the footage the stolen fertiliser truck is already well alight as it barrels southbound down George St at about 8:45am on October 11 2017.
The truck careens to the left and smashes into the historic Royal Hotel where it explodes into a fireball and mows through a power pole before coming to rest a short distance away.
The alleged truck thief Rodney Johnson, 29, who is wearing hi-visibility clothing miraculously escapes the flaming wreckage and is seen stumbling away from the danger area as another truck driver appears to go tentatively to the man's aid.
Another assisting truckie - who was undoubtedly unaware of the chaos caused in the hours leading up to the destruction of George St - herds Johnson back to the cabin of his own truck with the intention of keeping him safe until emergency services arrived.
The palpable moment where police realise the man they had been tailing for well over an hour was sitting in the front seat of a stationary truck only metres away is also caught on camera, with officers seen refocusing their attention on the undamaged rig and drawing their weapons.
Police swarm the truck with their guns drawn and the cabin camera shows the good Samaritan truck driver swiftly exiting the cabin as the reality dawns on him.
The pursuing police officers step into the doorway of the truck with their guns trained on Johnson who is sitting in the passenger seat out of view of the camera.
Two police officers enter the rig together and begin a wild wrestling match with Johnson who violently tussles with them and throws a wild punch which glances off one of the arresting officers.
At first officers are unable to remove the burly man who clings desperately to the steering wheel with his left hand, but another police officer soon enters the rig from the passenger side door and shoves Johnson hard in the back weakening his purchase on the wheel and causing him to tumble from vehicle where he is promptly arrested.
Johnson has since been charged with traffic offences including the more serious charges of stealing a motor vehicle, police pursuit, using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention and malicious damage.
He is due back in court in July.