Earlier this year a B-Double Truck crashed through our Raw Blend Head Office. It was a terrifying experience to say the least and has been a very testing and challenging year for the whole Raw Blend family. We are just so grateful everyday that no one was injured and after the long 6 months of rebuild and recovery we have just moved back into our offices.
May 26th 2015 started out just like any other day. I’d completed my usual morning run and gym routine, drank a huge green smoothie and arrived to the Raw Blend offices just after 8am. As I was unlocking the front office door I accidentally dropped my brand new iPhone 6 which quickly became an iSmash6, not the best start to the working day. We were understaffed this day and only Claire, Brandon, Zeppity (my dog) and I were in the office/warehouse. At about 10am I phoned Telstra Insurance to make a claim on my iPhone and was speaking to a sales representative when I heard a very unusual and concerning sound (which would be the beginning of the most testing year of my life and Raw Blend as a business).
Little did I know moments before, a double semi-trailer truck had just been loaded with 40 tonnes of tiles at the shipping company opposite the back of our building (a road wraps up and around our building and the shipping company is over the road on a hill). The driver of the truck had stepped into the office to gather some paperwork without applying his handbrake and the truck had started rolling quickly away, down the hill straight towards our building. The truck missed a bus filled with people by seconds, jumped the kerb, crossed the footpath and came hurtling through a wire fence, over a rock retaining wall and crashed violently through our 2nd story building – directly impacting our upstairs bathroom, demonstration kitchen and showroom.
I have never heard anything like it in my life. At first I thought Brandon our Warehouse Officer must have driven a forklift straight through our building but then came the piercing sound of breaking glass, twisting steel, smashed concrete and the huge force of kinetic energy behind the truck shook the building violently like an earthquake. In that moment, I thought it was the end of the world, I thought I was about die and couldn’t logically process what was happening around me. The deafening noise subsided and I heard Claire screaming… I dropped the phone and ran out of my office (it would have sounded pretty chaotic to the poor Telstra sales rep on the other end of the line). To my astonishment there was a truck parked in our kitchen, our entire offices are connected through open glass windows so it’s very open and easy to see every room.
It took me a few seconds to comprehend what I was looking at as I could never imagine any situation where a truck would crash through our 2nd story and just be hanging there suspended. The truck crashed through the wall about 3-4m from where we were located in our offices. Very luckily no one was in the bathroom or kitchen at the time or quite simply they would have been killed. Claire only just seconds before the impact had stood up to walk into the kitchen to make a coffee, if Claire had stood up 5 seconds earlier it would have been a very different story. Claire had also been in the bathroom only 10 minutes earlier to the accident.
Image above: bathroom demolished, luckily no was sitting on that toilet at the time
Brandon ran up from downstairs and we all quickly yelled out to each other to make sure we were all OK. I then remembered about Zeppity and in my head feared for the worst but then he just appeared out of nowhere at my feet barking loudly (he must have been with me in the office the whole time).
We all started running down the stairs in panic but then I took a double check and ran back to look at the truck as I feared for the safety of the driver. From a quick look I could see diesel spraying out of the truck everywhere and the smell was strong in the air. There was no way I could reach the driver through the mess of twisted glass, concrete and steel. I wouldn’t know there was no driver in the truck for another 2 minutes – the time it took me to sprint out and up the road to the back of the building where I was informed by the many transport company workers that had already accumulated to view the crash.
I thought to myself if this building is about to go up in flames I’m going to at the very least save my laptop (as I’d be lost without it) and quickly ran back inside to grab it so I could reply to emails and update our website and social media with the crash information… haha… always thinking about good customer service.
As you can imagine the accident bought every imaginable emergency service and authority in the whole area from firefighters, police, ambulance, environmental, council, engineers, insurance companies, assessors and mutiple news vans and helicopters. I was interviewed by 3 different news channels that day (something about all publicity is good publicity) and the process of removing the truck was extremely complicated and took until late afternoon to achieve.
My father Tom Nicholas is a builder by trade and built our Raw Blend head office facility. When dad built the mezzanine level in the kitchen/showroom he used heavy duty beams which could bear much more weight than what was required for the structure. I clearly remember Tom saying when he finished building the mezzanine floor “you could park a truck up here” – that’s how strong it was… little did we know a truck would be parked up here years later. Very luckily for Brandon dad had built such a strong mezzanine level as Brandon’s desk sits directly below where the truck would have continued to plough through the building.
Image above: The truck grill wedged between two buildings after being removed
Twelve hundred litres of diesel flooded through the offices and bottom warehouse damaging about 20% of our stock. Luckily we were fully covered by insurance and had another warehouse next door which was unaffected. We had to move our offices to my house and have been working out of 3 bedrooms for the past 6 months.
Image above: Beginning to rebuild
At first I thought the recovery wouldn’t take long, boy was I wrong! After 6 long and testing months of recovery and dealing with slack insurance companies we have finally moved back into our offices/showroom/demo kitchen and main warehouse.
I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful family and father in my life. Dad has been a master builder for over 50 years and at 73 years of age he is a true inspiration and such an amazing role model. Dad still works harder on the tools than most 20-40 year olds I know, he must get all that energy from his daily green smoothies haha! Without dad the rebuild would have literally taken another 6 months or more as the other builders who quoted on the job had no care for quickly getting us back into our premises. It really amazes me how much work can be caused by one truck crash, not only for the Raw Blend Team but for the many people involved with the rebuild.
At the end of the day, we all are just so grateful that no one was injured and thank our lucky stars each day. We have come through this experience even stronger than before and can’t wait to get back to Raw Blend business as usual in 2016. Big things to come…
Video above: Channel 9 news video of truck crash