2012-03-29

Funeral Fun - Accident on the Harbour Bridge!

    Breaking down or having an accident in a funeral car is often a little more serious than with most other cars.  Mainly because the funeral car will probably have a body or two onboard which always grabs attention.  And this attention is really unwanted for the funeral homes as it makes them look bad.  So you can imagine how bad it was when a hearse had an accident almost right ON the Harbour Bridge.  A classic Sydney icon that is a major link between two sides of the city.

    The hearse was driving along, headed to a funeral in North Sydney, so it had a coffin onboard.  It was only a small funeral so the hearse only had a conductor and driver, no cars following and nobody else inside.  It was also late afternoon and getting close to rush hour.  As they made their way onto the Harbour Bridge there was a sudden and loud bang, as thought the hearse had slamed into something.  They paused for a moment but continued on when smoke started pouring out of the engine.  They immediately pulled over and jumped out as it looked like it a fire was starting.  The engine looked totaled at the front, fluids and smoke were pouring out form underneath.  Of course the conductor grabbed his mobile and started calling the relative people, such as roadside assistance, and the office.

  Once the office found out about the accident they scrambled another hearse to go and collect the body so they could continue with the funeral, and also because they did not want to make the news with a body in a hearse having an accident.  The RTA (road maintenance people) were very quick to arrive as they had seen the accident on their cameras and promptly started diverting traffic and organising a tow truck.  Not long after the second rescue hearse arrived and they were about to get the coffin out of the first, broken hearse when the RTA stopped them.  They refused to let them move the coffin until after the broken hearse was towed off.  To the RTA the priority was on getting the road clear, which is their job.  Looking at the time the funeral staff knew they would not make the funeral in time if they waited.  So as soon as the RTA had turned their backs the funeral staff grabbed the coffin out, jogged it over to the other hearse, threw it in and sped off before anyone could stop them.

The hearse involved, much later
    The second hearse made it to the funeral in time and the family never knew about the accident that nearly delayed the whole event.  This is about when I came into the office to drop off some paperwork.  All the phones were constantly ringing, people were dashing about, it was chaotic.  As soon as I found out what had happened I immediately left and went home for the day (it was time to finish) as I knew I would be no use and did not want to get dragged into the chaos and panic.

    As for the hearse, it was towed off.  After a few hours and lots of debate the hearse was then towed over to the WNBull North Sydney branch before being taken to a mechanic a few days later.  They later found out that it had hit a road sign which was lying on the road.  This sign had then shredded the transmission and most of the engine.  After being hit the sign was then flung to the other side of the road, narrowly missing the oncoming traffic.  It is very lucky nobody was hurt and only the hearse was damaged.

    What is stranger, and luckier for the funeral home, is that it did not make the news in any way.  One would think that a hearse, with coffin inside, having an accident on its way onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the edge of rush hour would make the news.  But no, here are no pictures of stories to be found anywhere about the event.

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