A well-known Woolsthorpe truck driver about to retire has passed away due to a medical episode in highly unusual circumstances.
Neil Nelson, 66, was due to retire in a fortnight after driving trucks for the past 10 years, following a lifetime of working in the banking industry.
His wife Jeanette said her husband was looking forward to retiring.
"He was so excited," she said.
The Nelsons moved from Wangaratta to Warrnambool towards the end of 2006 and Mr Nelson worked at St George Bank and then South West Credit before pursuing his truck driving passion.
"It's something he always wanted to do and Matthew Gapes gave Neil that opportunity," Mrs Nelson said.
Mr Nelson also spent a couple of years around 2010 as administrator of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association.
On Sunday Mr Nelson pulled up at the Hamilton saleyards about 12.25pm and let his dogs out of the trailer.
He then put them in the dog box, got back into the cabin and reversed to a loading ramp.
All that was captured on security camera footage according to Hamilton police Detective Sergeant Mark James.
"He was about to load and go to Bacchus Marsh," he said.
"He's reversed and seems to have hit the ramp a bit hard for a driver of his experience.
"A short time later smoke can be seen and it's clear a tyre is still spinning on the passenger rear side.
"We believe that at that time the driver was incapacitated."
The truck sits at the saleyards for more than an hour with the smoke gradually increasing.
Detective Sergeant James said a passerby noticed the smoke, stopped and let the dogs out of their box and called 000 at 1.50pm.
"The truck catches fire and there's a substantial amount of smoke and flame," he said.
"The CFA attended and put out the fire. The rear part of the cabin is engulfed, the tyres all blow out and are and burnt and the trailer started to burn.
"The fire is put out and we soon after locate a man."
Detective Sergeant James said a postmortem would be conducted, but it was believed the truck driver suffered a medical episode.
"His death is believed to have nothing to do with the fire. He was not burnt and the fire started well after the driver was deceased or incapacitated."
The detective said the driver's death was sudden, unexpected and believed to be natural causes.
"The fire was a subsequent incident to the cause of death, and confused things," Detective Sergeant James said.
"The arson chemist says the cause of the fire is not suspicious. The CCTV clearly shows the truck sat there for more than an hour with the wheels spinning."
Detective Sergeant James said after the reversing action, smoke could be seen almost straight away coming from the wheels.
"Thankfully the dogs were saved by the passer by, it was only a matter of seconds and they would have been engulfed by fire," he said.
"If what we believe is a medical episode happened half-an-hour later other lives could possibly have been put at risk somewhere down the road.
"It's a very unique set of circumstances captured completely on CCTV."
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