Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

No brakes, no problem for quick-thinking Queen St truckie

A fully-loaded truck with snapped brakes careening down the main street of a busy city: It was like an action movie came to downtown Auckland yesterday.

The movie's hero? Not Bruce Willis, not Jason Statham - but Teri Tuhura, a truck driver from Manurewa.

The 36-year-old was driving the 13-tonne truck with 4 tonnes of timber on the back when something crucial snapped in the gearbox.

"I had just finished down at Fort St and was making my way up the top of Queen St, I was driving along and I just heard a bang in the truck."

He had just crossed Mayoral Drive when he heard the sound.

"The drive shaft had come away from the gear box and had torn my air lines under the truck and I had no brakes, no horn. Nothing."


The truck only stopped when it crashed at Airedale St near Aotea Square. Photo / Mauro Teixeira
The truck only stopped when it crashed at Airedale St near Aotea Square. Photo / Mauro Teixeira


Air lines are controlled by air pressure, which the driver applies by stepping on pedals in the cab.

If these lines are not connected, the air-control systems do not work.

The father of six said the huge truck began to roll backwards. It went about 200m down Queen St, before he tried to reverse it into Airedale St.

"It started going downhill and I tried to stop the truck somewhere but I was going backwards so I was just trying not to hit anyone or anything."

However there was no way he could have avoided a nearby van, Tuhura said.


The truck rolled backwards wiping out a van. Photo / Nick Reed
The truck rolled backwards wiping out a van. Photo / Nick Reed


"I couldn't miss the van because he was a bit too close to me, but I dodged a couple of other cars and buses there.

"I was just hoping people realised what was going on, I was just focusing on getting that bloody truck to stop."

The truck ended up crashing front-on into the corner of the Queen's Court building, causing some mild-looking damage to the stone building, but crushing the cabin of the truck.


The truck hit a brick wall. Photo / Mauro Teixeira
The truck hit a brick wall. Photo / Mauro Teixeira


A Fire Service spokesman confirmed the truck lost power in its brakes going up the steep street about 11.30am, only stopping when it crashed into a van at Airedale St near Aotea Square.

Tuhura was unharmed in the incident, but shaken afterwards.

"When I rolled into that shop building I realised how much weight and what not, that this truck is really heavy."


The truck only came to a halt when it hit a brick wall.
The truck only came to a halt when it hit a brick wall.


It was lucky it was not slightly later in the lunchtime rush, said Tuhura.

"I am just glad more people weren't around and I didn't hit anyone else.

When he got home last night, Tuhura said he was struck by the reality of what could have happened.

"It sort of didn't sink in until last night, that it really did happen and what could have happened.

"I got a lot of praise from everybody yesterday, but I was just glad I didn't hurt anybody."

An employee at the trucking company said Tuhura did an incredible job handling the situation.

"We are really proud of him after that, he managed to save people and properties."

- NZ Herald

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