Young man covers his face with his hands in grief
Young man covers his face with his hands in grief

High speed crash: ‘He died as I held his head’

A Gold Coast towie has spoken about the heartbreaking moment he saw a teenager die after a horrific high speed smash. He's still dealing with the consequences.

His plea for mental health services targeting towies has been backed by Transport Workers Union's Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini.

He said tow truck operators "are really struggling to find support in the workplace".

The Gold Coast driver, who feared repercussions if he was named, said tow truck operators are often the first on scene at catastrophic crashes.

Tow truck drivers are often the first on scene at accidents. Picture: Glenn Ferguson
Tow truck drivers are often the first on scene at accidents. Picture: Glenn Ferguson

He attended an incident last year in which four passengers were trapped in a mangled car - including the dying teenage boy.

"First thing I did was jump in there and support the young fellow's head," he said.

"He had three cardiac arrests before he died completely and in that time he's trying to fight me off, from the head injuries, the pressure on his brain I think.

"I had his family overlooking me at the scene of the accident while we were working on him with the ambos."

Tragically, the teenager could not be resuscitated by paramedics.

"It f - ked me up quite a bit," the driver said.

Tow truck drivers don’t have a lot of external support, a tow truck driver claims. Picture: Sarah Matray
Tow truck drivers don’t have a lot of external support, a tow truck driver claims. Picture: Sarah Matray

"I couldn't get any help. Couldn't afford to go to the doctors and we don't get any help from the government after this sort of thing."

The driver aged in his mid-30s said the industry maintains a tough facade and he felt there was nowhere to turn.

Struggling to cope, he used cannabis to get a night's sleep - which he said was "the worst decision possible".

Two days later he was caught with the drug in his system and lost his licence.

He may never drive tow trucks again after Transport and Main Roads determined he was not fit to operate in the industry.

The driver believes the situation would have played out differently if help was available.

He wants the State Government to examine how it can support tow truck drivers traumatised while fulfilling a crucial role.

When asked how often colleagues are forced to witnesses the human cost of road crashes in graphic detail, the driver replied: "All the time."

Debriefing and mental health support remains non-existent, he said, perhaps because the industry lacks an overarching body.

Mr Biagini said drivers are left in the lurch despite witnessing "some of the worst accidents on our roads".

He said the union was "actively rolling out peer-to-peer mental health programs in workplaces" but more needed to be done

"Transport workers who see or respond to especially traumatic events deserve to have every opportunity to get the help they need," he said.

"We're currently working with a number of stakeholders to improve mental health awareness and treatment for transport workers.

"Being healthy at work includes mental health - it can often seem easier for people to try and hide their issues when they don't know what support is available.

"The union will always be there to support any worker who is doing it tough".

Need help? Phone Lifeline on 13 11 44.