PROUD FATHER: David Tilley with Nigel and his sister Julia.
PROUD FATHER: David Tilley with Nigel and his sister Julia. Contributed

Grieving father praises first responders to son's crash

THE father of a truck driver killed after his b-double ran off the road at Raleigh has paid tribute to the emergency services who responded.

David Tilley, who's son Nigel died in a truck crash at Raleigh last week, is also pleading with drivers to think of family members each and every time they get behind the wheel.

"People have to give long and hard consideration to their family whenever they drive,"Mr Tilley said.

"When a life is taken out of the family unit it affects everybody. I don't know if we're ever going to get over it. At this point in time, it is hard to imagine that we will ever get over the equal loss to all of our son, brother, father and husband.

"I don't think people think enough about if they were lost to the world, just how would their family cope?

A 38-year-old Queensland truck driver was killed in this morning's fatal crash on the Pacific Highway at Raleigh.
The horrific crash that claimed the life of Nigel Tilley last week, south of Coffs Harbour. Frank Redward

"I don't think there is enough of that in road safety messaging - we talk about rules and penalties but at the end of the day the loss to family is what you've got to worry about."

Mr Tilley remembers Nigel, 38, as a very hardworking family man and even as he struggles with his own grief, he's taken the time to pay tribute to those "unsung heroes" who attended the horrific scene and who continue to offer support.

"I wish to express our very deep and sincere thanks and appreciation to all of the police and emergency services personnel who attended Nigel's accident. They deal with these sorts of things every day of their lives - it must be a very traumatic and harrowing job and I wouldn't swap roles with them for anything," he said.

"The police have been very patient and generous with their time in helping various family members to understand all of the circumstances involved in this tragic accident".

Mr Tilley gave a special thank you to Dorrigo police officer Matt Dalkeith, who is the lead officer investigating Nigel's accident.

On the day, first responders were confronted with the wreckage of Nigel's northbound truck wedged between the two highway bridges at Raleigh, about 100 metres north of the Shortcut Rd overpass, on Wednesday (February 13) just before 6am.


PROUD FATHER: David Tilley with Nigel and his sister Julia.
PROUD FATHER: David Tilley with Nigel and his sister Julia. Contributed

Mr Tilley says his son had an excellent driving record and this was his one and only truck accident.

He believes fatigue may well have been a major factor.

"He worked long hours, was totally focussed on his family and paying the mortgage. He has been driving trucks since I can't remember when," he said.

"He had driven all sorts of trucks - tow trucks, b-doubles, single trailers - and delivered all kinds of loads. He was an excellent truck driver and had a good reputation in the industry.

"People talk a lot about cowboy truck drivers, but he was in no way a cowboy - he was a very experienced, level headed responsible person behind the wheel of any rig".

Mr Tilley had driven with his son on interstate changeovers to Macksville on occasion to experience first-hand what his son's work entailed.

"As a passenger in his truck I can attest to his absolute competence and abilities behind the steering wheel," he said.

He would also take his sons on trips for them to experience their dad's work as a truck driver.


EXTENDED FAMILY: Nigel and his sister's extended family spent many happy times together.
EXTENDED FAMILY: Nigel and his sister's extended family spent many happy times together. Contributed

Nigel lived in Brisbane with wife Kirsty and two boys. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. To donate follow this link.

"He was into trail bikes and had bought his sons peewee mini bikes and was getting into taking them out on trail was a real interest of his. We were also planning this year to get a ski boat, so all of the family children could get involved in a sport together."

Nigel was very close to his 35-year-old sister Julia who is bringing up eight children - and their two families spent many happy times together as one big tribe.

Mr Tilley was on an overseas holiday at the time of the accident.

He is coming to Coffs Harbour on the weekend to look at the scene with police and erect a memorial cross.

"I hope people will then see Nigel's cross and it may just prompt them to be extra cautious - and at the very first sign of tiredness - I hope that they will pull over and rest."

He has also thanked the many readers who wrote to the Coffs Coast Advocate expressing their thoughts and sympathy to the family.

"They don't know us from anybody, but it's nice they put pen to paper and added their thoughts."