A truck driver who died in a fiery crash on the South Eastern Freeway just weeks before one of his daughters was due to get married is being remembered as a “loving and much loved father”.
- Two trucks collided near Monarto about 2:30am
- One of the vehicles was carrying aerosol cans and caught fire
- The 56-year-old driver died at the scene
Stavros Kostaras was killed when his vehicle collided with the back of another truck near Monarto in South Australia’s Murraylands.
The 56-year-old from Parafield Gardens was carrying a load of household goods, including aerosol cans, from Melbourne when the rear-end collision happened about 2:30am.
The crash sparked a fire which destroyed the Booth Transport truck Mr Kostaras was driving and spread to grass and scrub, requiring several Country Fire Service crews to extinguish the blaze.
Mr Kostaras’s eldest daughter Elizabeth Kostaras-Gakis said her father was a “fun-loving man” and a “joker” who was full of “compassion” and “empathy”.
“This morning showed our family that we are never promised tomorrow,” she said.
“Dad was a big teddy bear with an even bigger heart.
“[He] was a loving and much-loved father of five daughters and grandfather to four children. He was a husband, a son, a brother and a friend to many.”
Reading from a short statement, she said her father had worked as a truck driver for almost four decades, and has pleaded with other drivers to take care.
“His willingness to help others … is what he will be forever be remembered for,” Ms Kostaras-Gakis said.
“After nearly 40 years in a truck, this was the worst ending we could have ever imagined but we take solace in the hope that others will recognise the dangers on the road and get home safely.
“Rest in peace, dad. May God keep you at peace until we meet again.”
Daughter urges drivers to take care as road toll spirals
Ms Kostaras-Gakis said she still hoped “this is a bad dream” and said the tragedy had occurred just weeks ahead of her sister’s wedding.
It was her sister who broke the news to her this morning.
“My sister rang and I wasn’t going to answer, I was going to pretend I was sleeping because I was like ‘my sister doesn’t ring this early, she’s probably just talking about wedding stuff’,” Ms Kostaras-Gakis said.
“I [answered] the phone and all I could hear was crying.”
The crash left debris including aerosol cans strewn across the highway.
The other truck was transporting cars. Its driver, a 52-year-old Melrose Park man, avoided injury, police said.
In recent weeks, police have repeatedly pleaded with drivers after a surge in the state’s road toll — which stands at 33 compared with 19 at the same time last year.
“All the truckies — especially now over the Easter break — be careful. You don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring you,” Ms Kostaras-Gakis said.
“Dad was always good like that, when he was tired he’d always pull over,” she said.
Emergency services attended the scene for several hours, along with SA Police Major Crash investigators.
The road has remained closed and diversions were introduced between Callington and Monarto, with drivers advised to expect long delays.
Councillor killed while cycling
Yesterday, a regional councillor was killed after being hit by a ute at Younghusband, which is also in the Murraylands between Mannum and Swan Reach.
Steve Wilkinson, 67, a keen cyclist, was riding his bike when he was struck on Hunter Road about 8:15am.
Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess said his colleague’s death had come as a “huge shock” to locals.
“He’ll be remembered for his commitment to the community,” Mr Burgess said.
“[He was] very genuine, very honest, very giving with his time — which is a rare trait these days.
“It will take a few days to settle in with everyone.”
Mr Burgess said Mr Wilkinson had recently returned from a cycling holiday to New Zealand, and rode with a group called the Mannum Peddle Wheelers.
A 37-year-old motorcyclist from Goolwa and a 42-year-old man from Mount Crawford were also killed on South Australia’s roads this week.
Topics: road, accidents, road-transport, industrial-fires, fires, police, monarto-south-5254, murray-bridge-5253, adelaide-5000, sa, australia
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