Trapped in a hot van ... then panic set in

 

TRAPPED in his work van on a scorching November day in the Cairns city, Ben Winters-McAppion was in a race against time already before his mind started thinking the worst.

The audiovisual business owner, who repairs and installs televisions had climbed into his van, which was parked at The Pier carpark, to get some tools when the door shut and wouldn't open again.

Ben Winters-McAppion who was trapped in his Renault van in the hot sun when the door handle malfunctioned. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Ben Winters-McAppion who was trapped in his Renault van in the hot sun when the door handle malfunctioned. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

"The door wasn't fully closed, but once it hooked on to the latch, I was completely trapped," the Gordonvale man said.

"I reached over and removed the headrest (from the front seat) and reached across on the towel to get my mobile phone and then I called the ambulance."

Mr Winters-McAppion said the Renault van was only four months old and he hadn't noticed problems with it before.

He's mindful the happy tale, which he admits to feeling a bit embarrassed about, could have had a different ending.

"To start with I was a little concerned, but as time started to pass, I thought maybe no one was coming," Mr Winters-McAppion said.

Ben Winters-McAppion outside the vehicle. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Ben Winters-McAppion outside the vehicle. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

"I rang the ambulance but after 10 minutes I starting thinking, 'what if they're not coming'.

"I had rung my partner and was just about to smash a window when the police opened the front door.

"If it took any longer I'm not sure what I would have done because I was getting really panicked."

But police warned the lucky technician the windows were so tough, it would have been difficult for him to break them, even with tools.

"The police said I would have got really weak really quickly and wouldn't have been able to break them," Mr Winters-McAppion said.

"Lucky my mobile phone was within reach or it wouldn't have ended well."

He plans to contact Renault Australia to tell them of his experience. The incident left Mr Winters-McAppion relatively unscathed though and he headed to his regular ten pin bowling competition last night.

But the event could have had serious consequences. Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jess Gardner said Cairns Airport recorded a top temperature of 32.2C and Cairns racecourse 33.2C yesterday. Temperatures will remain steady for the rest of the week.

"The rain is a bit hit and miss at the moment - there are isolated showers around, and Cairns is just missing out," she said.

"It's pretty sticky."


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