REAL LIFE

Explosion on the highway!

With a car full of kids Gina had no idea she was driving with her car on fire!

Here Gina Faulkner, 49, tells the story in her own words. 

A mum of 10, my kids were starting to have children of their own.

Now my family was growing bigger again as my daughter Melisa, 25, was seven-months pregnant.

In March last year, she was having a baby shower at her house in rural NSW.

Over three hours away, my hubby Steve, 45, wasn’t coming so I was planning to drive.

But the week before, our van started to play up.

Anything longer than a trip to the shops caused it to overheat.

‘If the mechanic doesn’t give it the all clear we won’t be able to make it,’ I told Melissa on the phone.

Thankfully, when I went to pick up the van from the shop, the mechanic had replaced some parts and was confident it would make it to the baby shower and back safely.

‘Make sure you carry water with you just in case,’ he advised.

On the day, I was taking my kids, Ashleigh, 20, Lauren, 14, Mitchell, 10, and Abbey, eight, as well as 11-week-old Dustin and his Dad Valentine.

When Lauren clocked off work at 9.30pm, we all piled in the van.

In the back of my mind, I was still worried about the car.

And just 15 kilometres down the road, my dash board lit up.

‘It’s already started to overheat!’ I panicked, turning to Lauren in the passenger seat.

The thermometer gauge had turned bright red, warning me that the engine was too hot.

Pulling over, I jumped out and followed the mechanics instructions, pouring some cool water into the radiator.

After about five minutes the dash board lights had flicked off and everything was back to normal.

‘If it overheats one more time we’re going home,’ I told my family.

I didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the bush in the middle of the night.

Turning onto the multi-lane highway, the car seemed to be running fine.  

Suddenly, travelling at 110km/h, there was a huge pop.

‘What’s that noise?’ the kids fretted in the back.

In the lane beside us, a man was hanging out of the window.

‘You’re on fire!’ he screamed, as the driver held his hand on the horn.

Instantly I felt the blood drain from my face.

Slamming on the brakes, I only had one thing on my mind – the baby!

Strapped into the middle seat, I was worried we wouldn’t be able to unbuckle him quickly enough.

‘Get the baby!’ I screeched, pulling the car over.

As we stopped, red flames took over the bonnet and smoke poured into the cabin.

Throwing open the back door, my kids flew out with Dustin in their arms and tears streaming down their faces.

‘Mum!’ they screamed in fear.

‘Just run!’ I wailed.

I thought running as fast as I could.

But then I remembered Dustin’s milk and stopped in my tracks.

‘The nappy bag,’ I screamed.

The only milk we had to feed Dustin was in that bag, so Valentine darted back towards the flame covered car.

I held my breath and we watched Valentine go into the flames.

But within the blink of an eye he was out running back to us bag in hand.

Then

Just as he reached us, the car exploded, the force almost knocking us to the ground.

It was like a gunshot.

Embers flew high in the air, landing on the shrubs on the side of the road causing them to catch alight.

All that was left was a shell.
All that was left was a shell. (Source: Supplied)

Calling emergency services, we stood on the side of the highway watching helplessly.

Within two minutes our car was just a shell.

The man who’d flagged us down said we’d been travelling so quickly, the wind was blowing the flames underneath our car and out the rear – that’s why I hadn’t spotted it.

Fire had been pouring out of the back as we sped along the highway.

I thought holding my kids close.

Quickly the fire brigade extinguished the flames.

‘Thank goodness we’re all okay,’ I said.

After getting checked over by paramedics we were all given a clean bill of health, then the police drove us home and I was able to tuck my kids in bed.

I still can’t believe we were driving a car on fire.

I don’t blame the mechanic at all.

I am so thankful to the kind driver and their passenger who raised the alarm, without them I doubt we would all be here.

Since the accident we have purchased a new car and we’re certainly more careful about taking long distance trips.

I am just so grateful my family are all in one piece.

My family.
My Family (Source: Supplied)

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