This is truly one of those Final Destination moments, but it was a real-life accident for one woman. While driving around in her Hyundai SUV on the freeway, one of the massive overhead signs fell onto the vehicle. Dashcam footage from another car shows the sign falling directly in front of the SUV before crushing the roof seconds later.
The Final Destination-style accident happened during rush hour on the highway
According to ABC News Australia, a Nella Lettieri was driving on one of Melbourne’s busiest freeways when a freak accident occurred. The Lettieri was driving on the Tullamarine Freeway when an overhead sign fell onto her SUV. Between the exits for Bulla Road and Bell Street, she attempted to change lanes when the sign came down.
A director of Victoria’s major road projects authority said this was “a very extremely rare event,” but it was all caught on camera. It was the busiest time of day on the road, just before 6:00 PM on Tuesday. Amazingly, the sign only crushed one vehicle in the accident. The driver, Lettieri, was taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital with neck and head injuries but was stable.
In a video from ABC News after the fact, it does appear a few more vehicles were involved once the sign came down. A flatbed tow truck took a Honda sedan away from the scene.
How does a highway sign fall on an SUV? This nightmare accident was under investigation
Acting Sergeant Jason Lane from Fawkner Highway Patrol confirmed that only the Hyundai SUV was severely damaged. The video above shows the dashcam footage of the incident from a car traveling behind the Hyundai SUV.
“It is unusual. I haven’t come across it before.”Jason Lane | Fawkner Highway Patrol
Sergeant Lane confirmed to the news station that wind was not a factor in this accident. The Bulla Road highway sign was recently upgraded as part of the CityLink Tulla Widening project. This project is a part of the Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV). This organization oversees tasks with new roads, highway upgrades, road widening, and other essential infrastructure undertakings.
Graeme Chambers of the MRPV said that a team of experts would be investigating the incident. “It’s an extremely rare event. I’ve had 30-plus years’ experience in the industry as an engineer, and I’m not aware of such an event happening before,” Chambers said.
The highways were deemed safe to drive on
One of the hypotheses for the accident at first was that someone did not correctly connect the sign to the gantry overhead. For the sign to be used in the first place, it would have had to be checked by an engineer and independently reviewed after that. Then the highway sign would have to be quality certified, of which there would be plenty of documentation.
A sign near the one that fell was checked and said not to pose any danger at the time. VicRoads, or the Roads Corporation of Victoria, cleared the highway and said it was safe to drive on. “We would not have the freeway open if we believed there were risks to the community today,” VicRoads’ deputy chief executive Robyn Seymour said to the paper.
The investigation revealed some “weaknesses in quality control”
In later investigations, VicRoads found that the responsible parties did not inspect the sign as it was supposed to be. In fact, a later ABC News report says that “several compulsory safety checks were not carried out” on the sign before it fell. The investigation found “‘weaknesses in quality control’ in the design and construction process.'” A progressive fatigue crack was found, which was the cause for the sign to fall in the first place.
ABC News Australia says, “it was missing a steel stiffener plate, which should have been inside the gantry and is designed to strengthen the sign’s attachment to the gantry.” Due to the errors, all of the freeway signs were inspected and strengthened.
The signs were anticipated to last 100 years and were re-certified after the investigation. Thus far, no further accidents have been reported. For those Final Destination fans out there, watch out for falling highway signs.