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A POPULAR Mepunga family man and sporting identity died after his B-double cattle truck overturned and caught fire at Ecklin South on Tuesday morning.
Farmer Robert Haberfield, 53, was travelling east on the Cobden-Warrnambool Road about 11.20am when his truck left the road about 300 metres from the Ayresford Road intersection.
He was trapped in the cabin and died at the scene.
Mr Haberfield was known throughout the region’s sporting community, having served as Warrnambool and District Cricket Association chairman for five years until he stepped down in 2012 after 12 years on the board.
He had been involved in cricket administration for 34 years. A smoke plume was visible from as far away as Tower Hill and the truck was still in flames 40 minutes after emergency services were notified.
The fire spread into grassland and scrub on both sides of the road as the temperature nudged 41 degrees, but a quick response from nine CFA units stopped it spreading further.
The truck was carrying 37 head of cattle. Fifteen were killed in the accident and Corangamite Shire rangers had to destroy another seven that were injured.
Warrnambool police Inspector Kevin Archer said the driver was travelling behind another truck and had stopped at a rest area about five kilometres away.
“He was following another truck, which turned around and discovered the accident,” Inspector Archer said yesterday.
“At this stage we don’t know exactly what’s happened, but we don’t think fatigue was an issue.
“We have no idea what’s happened at this stage.
‘‘There is no rhyme or reason for it.
‘‘It’s a straight stretch of road.
‘‘Investigations will be ongoing.”
Inspector Archer said nine CFA units, Terang SES and police from around the area attended.
The Cobden-Warrnambool Road was closed into the evening while the scene was cleared.
Eastbound traffic was diverted down the Ayresford Road and west-bound down the Terang-Timboon Road.