Accident victim ‘massive loss’ to community

Tributes have poured in for a "one of a kind" business owner who died at his Balclutha depot on Tuesday.

McLellan Freight owner Alex McLellan died following a workplace accident at his Barr St truck yard about 5pm on Tuesday.

Yesterday, friends and freight industry colleagues paid glowing tribute to the man they knew as "Mac", describing him as a "legend" who would be missed.

Farmer and Clutha district councillor Dean McCrostie said he had been lucky to meet Mr McLellan as a young man, thanks to shared interests in classic cars and public service.

"We met through Roundtable, and when we started the South Otago Car Club, McLellans supported events like the Catlins Rallysport.

"He was one of a kind, a legend of a man, gone far too quickly, and a massive loss to the Clutha community."

Mr McCrostie said his friend had returned to truck driving in recent times.

"He lived through his family and his work, and was loving being back behind the wheel."

Road Transport Logistics operator Bruce Robertson, of Tapanui, said the industry had lost a "passionate advocate".

Last year, the NZ Heavy Haulage Association presented Mr McLellan with a Chairman’s Award to recognise his achievements and contribution to the transport sector.

A bouquet of flowers adorns the truck entrance to McLellan Freight in James St, Balclutha,...
A bouquet of flowers adorns the truck entrance to McLellan Freight in James St, Balclutha, yesterday, following the accidental death of business owner Alex McLellan at the yard on Tuesday afternoon. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Mr Robertson said he was "stunned" to hear of his death.

"Mac was very well respected by other operators. He had a natural ability to create a bond with whoever he met, whether that was the little kid who loved trucks, or leaders in the industry."

Mr McLellan founded McLellan Freight in 1989, with just three trucks.

"He was a self-made man, starting out driving in the early days, and working his way up to build a big business. Everyone who crossed paths with him will be saddened by his untimely death."

A McLellan Freight spokeswoman contacted yesterday said the family did not wish to comment.

Police said investigations into the cause of the death were continuing, although it was "not suspicious".

"Police attended a workplace accident in Barr St, Balclutha on Tuesday. Emergency services were notified about 5pm that one person had been seriously injured. Sadly, the person died as a result of their injuries. WorkSafe has been notified," a police spokesman said.

A Hato Hone St John spokesman said the service was alerted to a workplace accident at 4.57pm on Tuesday, responding with one first response unit, one ambulance, two rapid response vehicles and a helicopter.

The incident was the second workplace death to have befallen McLellan Freight.

In 2017, a driver for the company got out of his truck and was fatally struck by a loader as it reversed within the South Port, Bluff, storage shed.

At the Invercargill District Court in September last year, the company was found guilty of two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act in relation to the incident, and ordered to pay $60,000 emotional harm reparation, $50,869 consequential loss reparation, a fine of $577,500 and costs of $41,658.