Bomb scare closes Monash Freeway
Police and the bomb squad are called in after a truck driver is spotted on the wrong side of the road. Nine News.PT0M0S 620 349
Traffic across Melbourne was in disarray early on Thursday after police discovered a truck driver who was feared to have an explosive device strapped to his head.
The flow-on effects of the stand off between the 35-year-old prime mover driver and police were felt across the city and into peak hour as officers tried to negotiate with the man after he sped off down the wrong side of the Monash Freeway.
The drama unfolded just after 4am when police were called to the inbound lanes of the freeway after reports that a truck had broken down.
Police said that when they arrived, there appeared to be a suspicious device strapped to the driver’s head.
When police arrived at the scene the driver got out of the truck and spoke to officers, but they could not understand what he was saying.
The driver "spoke quite a bit but the police weren't able to understand what he was saying ... so we backed off and tried to negotiate’’ with him, Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Martin Bourke said.
But when police approached the driver, he sped off towards the city before suddenly changing course and travelling on the wrong side of the road.
Police pursued the truck until the driver did a sudden U-turn and accelerated the wrong way down the freeway heading towards oncoming traffic at almost 100 km/h.
"He managed to stop the truck just in front of the civilian vehicles," Detective Bourke said.
"We had a number of trucks that were the first vehicles coming in the other direction. If we’d had trucks going 100 km/h in each direction colliding, that would have caused some major, major issues, we probably would have had some fatalities on our hands today."
Police evacuated about 150 drivers from the scene. They did not move the vehicles off the road because they were mostly trucks and would prove too difficult to move, he said.
Detective Bourke said police started to negotiate with the man after he came to a stop, but were unable to communicate with him.
“He was speaking in a manner that really want making sense at all,” he said.
“He wasn’t affected by drugs or alcohol, but appeared to have some sort of mental condition that was affecting his ability to speak with us.
“After about 10 minutes of negotiation he got out of his vehicle, he took his clothes off of his own free accord, completely naked, he removed the device, and walked towards police and did exactly what he was told and surrendered.”
Detective Bourke would not go into detail about the device the man had strapped to his head, other than confirming it was not an explosive device.
The driver is now at The Alfred hospital where he is undergoing psychiatric checks.
He is potentially facing charges including recklessly endangering life.
When he has been psychiatrically evaluated he will be taken to Prahran police station to be interviewed.
The company that owns the truck the man was driving has taken it away.