Three years ago Ronny Seidel was driving a truck along the Great Eastern Highway in Western Australia when he witnessed two vehicles collide and burst into flames.
- Ronny Seidel used his pocket knife to cut his colleague out of a burning truck cab
- The two escaped from the vehicle just seconds before it exploded
- Mr Seidel is one of 15 West Australian’s to be recognised for their bravery by the Governor-General this week
A truck that was being driven by a colleague had been hit from behind by another truck.
His colleague was trapped in the cab, surrounded by a wall of flames.
Mr Seidel ran to help.
“I tried to open his door but it was jammed and there were flames everywhere and the cab was all on fire.”
Several other drivers stopped to help.
Mr Seidel managed to pry open the driver’s door, but the seatbelt was jammed.
It was in the nick of time.
“We got him out and within 5 to 10 seconds the whole truck was like a big fireball.”
Trusty knife always by his side
While it was lucky Mr Seidel had the pocket knife on him to cut his colleague free, it was no accident.
“My grandfather told me when I was a little boy that a real man never goes out without a pocket knife in his pocket,” he said.
“It kind of stuck in my head and every time when I’m at work I always have a pocket knife in my pocket.”
The advice helped him save a life.
“I had another big knife in my truck but it would have been too late,” he said.
“It probably would have been really sad [ending] “.
‘Not a hero’
This week Mr Seidel, who lives in Margaret River in the South West of WA, was one of 15 fellow West Australians to be recognised for acts of bravery.
He was awarded the commendation as part of the 2021 Australian Bravery Decorations from Governor-General David Hurley.
But despite all the fanfare, three years on Mr Seidel still does not see himself as a hero.
“I just did what I had to do.”
“Luckily I had some other people that helped me as well, I probably wouldn’t have done it on my own. It was good teamwork.”
A 12-year study from Monash University found truck drivers in Australia have a 13-fold higher risk of dying at work than any other worker.
But despite witnessing the real-life dangers of his jobs, after one week, Mr Seidel was back in the driver’s seat.
“[I was freaked out] for the first couple of hours of driving again,” he said.
“None of us died — that was the main thing.”