A woman who cheated death when a freeway sign crushed her car has hired lawyers to fight VicRoads and Transurban for compensation.
A woman who cheated death when a freeway sign crushed her car has hired lawyers to fight VicRoads and Transurban for compensation.

Freeway sign victim to sue government

EXCLUSIVE: A mum who cheated death when a freeway sign fell from a gantry and crushed her car has engaged lawyers to fight for compensation.

Nella Lettieri has been plagued by flashbacks of the horrifying moment the four-tonne sign crashed onto her vehicle since her January 8 Tullamarine Freeway ordeal.

She says she and her family now fear someone could die unless authorities rigorously check all freeway ­signs ­installed by contractors.

PREVIOUSLY: LUCKY ESCAPE AFTER FREEWAY SIGN CRUSHES CAR

MORE SIGNS REMOVED FOR SAFETY TESTING

MISSING STEEL PLATE LINKED TO FREEWAY SIGN FALL

Nella Lettierihas been plagued by flashbacks of the horrifying moment the four-tonne sign crashed onto her car. Picture: David Caird
Nella Lettierihas been plagued by flashbacks of the horrifying moment the four-tonne sign crashed onto her car. Picture: David Caird

 

Dashcam footage showing the sign hitting Nella Lettieri’s car on the Tullamarine Freeway. Picture: Nine News
Dashcam footage showing the sign hitting Nella Lettieri’s car on the Tullamarine Freeway. Picture: Nine News


"If I was going a couple of seconds faster it would have chomped the car in half … like a guillotine," said Ms Lettieri, of Tullamarine. They want VicRoads and Transurban held ­accountable for failing to notice that a vital safety plate was never added to the sign in 2017.

A hurried audit of freeway signs after the incident found two others missing that part.

"How does it happen?" Ms Lettieri said. "If I was in a third world country … but here in Australia where we are so strict?"

Daughter Claudia Lettieri was in tears recalling how she thought the worst after seeing her mother's "squished" car.

Nella Lettieri’s crushed car. Picture: Supplied
Nella Lettieri’s crushed car. Picture: Supplied

To add insult to injury, ­neither VicRoads nor Transurban has offered the family help to get around.

Carbone Lawyers managing partner Tony Carbone said his firm would be pursuing damages for the impact of the "negligence".

"Nella is a lucky lady to be alive, but is she a lucky lady? No. Her life has been turned upside down," he said.

Nella Lettieri looks at photos from the crash with the overhead sign. Picture: David Caird
Nella Lettieri looks at photos from the crash with the overhead sign. Picture: David Caird

The 53-year-old had been due to start a new full-time role with the events decorating company where she has been employed for a decade, but she has been unable to ­return to work. She said she was grappling with long-term impacts ­including nightmares, pain and headaches.

"It feels like there's sand in my neck, like it's grinding," Ms Lettieri said.

She said she was now too scared to drive, and was ­anxious when daughters Danielle, 28, Stephanie, 22, and Claudia, 21, were driving.

Nella Lettieri is too scared to drive again. Picture: David Caird
Nella Lettieri is too scared to drive again. Picture: David Caird

In a statement, VicRoads said a probe was also looking at engineering, design calculations and materials, which Mr Carbone said raised questions about the integrity of other infrastructure.

VicRoads acting chief executive Robyn Seymour said she would continue to keep Ms Lettieri updated on the progress of the investigation.

"There's no doubt Ms Lettieri has been through a traumatic experience which is why I reached out and offered my support," Ms Seymour said.

"I've told her she can contact me personally at any time."

Transurban spokesman David Clements said the company was "working around the clock" to investigate.

"We don't want to see anything like this happen and understand this has been ­difficult for Nella and her family," he said.



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