Distraught family members and spectators tend to victims, including several children, a short time after the horrific accident at the Dalyston Mud Run on Sunday. The incident has put the future of the huge fundraiser in doubt.
By Gav Ross
A KORUMBURRA woman whose nine year old niece was pulled from underneath a crashed four-wheel-drive at the Dalyston Mud Run on Sunday has described the incident as “something you’d see out of a movie.” Mother-of-two Lindy King was at the popular annual event with family and friends when disaster struck at around 4pm. Hundreds of witnesses watched in horror as a four-wheel-drive veered out of control up an embankment, ploughing into a group of spectators sitting behind plastic mesh fencing. An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman confirmed five children, aged between eight and 15, and a 40 year old man were injured. Two of the victims – girls aged 10 and 15 – were airlifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital with leg and pelvic injuries. Lindy’s niece, Tegan Fox, was transported to Dandenong Hospital with leg injuries. Speaking to The Sentinel-Times yesterday (Monday), Lindy said she was sitting five metres from where the vehicle landed. “There was a big group of us and eight or nine of our kids were sitting down by the fence,” Lindy said. “We were just sitting there, enjoying the races, when the car lost control up the hill. “We all jumped back in disbelief.” Surrounded by screaming voices and the revving of the vehicle after it had landed, Lindy said all she could think about was the children. Amid the chaos, she saw that her own children were safe, but her niece, Tegan Fox, was unaccounted for. Rushing closer to the vehicle, she watched helplessly as Tegan was winched to safety by another spectator. “I grabbed her and moved her away,” Lindy said. “I thought she may have been knocked out, but once I moved her away she came to and I started talking to her.” Tegan was one of the five reported injured by Ambulance Victoria and was transported to Dandenong Hospital with leg injuries. Lindy said Tegan received bruises and scratches all over her back and hip. Her stepson, Dylan, also received a graze and bump to the head. Several of Lindy’s relatives and partner were part of a heroic group of bystanders that lifted the vehicle up to allow the injured and trapped to be pulled out. “It was just very surreal,” Lindy said. “I’d never have thought a car could come up that embankment – that’s why I didn’t mind the kids being down there (near the fence).” “It was just a really bizarre accident, and really unfortunate that it was on top of our kids.” Despite the traumatic experience, Lindy said she wouldn’t rule out attending a similar event. “I would go again,” she said, adding that it has been an event her family has attended for five years. “But I don’t know that I would take the kids again…”
Run by the Australian 4WD Mud Racing Association, the Dalyston Mud Run is a major fundraiser for the Dalyston Football and Netball Club. Club president, Paul Dunlop, said the club is “shattered” over what happened. “Our biggest concern now is for the people who were injured,” Paul said. “Our hearts go out to family and people in the area who were traumatised as well “We hope everyone recovers and there’s no impact on them going forward.” Although no water-filled barriers were in place on the part of the track where the accident occurred, Paul said work had been done to the track to make it safer in the weeks leading up to the Mud Run. “One of the things we did was square up the corner that it happened on,” he said. “Foremost in our mind is to make sure the track is safe.” Senior Sergeant Trevor Teer of Wonthaggi Police confirmed the driver involved in the accident passed a breath test. “But it’s not a police matter as it is an off road event held privately,” Sgt Teer said. “It’s the same at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit and the dirt bike races held every week – the only time police are involved is if there is a fatality.” While there is no police investigation, officers assisted at the scene for several hours. Bass Coast Shire Council CEO, Allan Bawden, said he expects that the Australian 4WD Mud Racing Association will carry out its own investigation and that council would co-operate, since the incident occurred on a council-owned recreational reserve. “Our primary concern is for those who are injured and their families,” Mr Bawden added. Mr Bawden noted that the Dalyston Mud Run has been successful for many years without incident, and that insurance liability remains with the permit holder. He said the future of the event will depend on the outcome of investigations and that council staff would be looking into whether improved safety conditions might have avoided this incident. The Australian 4WD Racing Association declined to comment when contacted by The Sentinel-Times.