A 28 year old Sandy Point man died last Wednesday after losing control of his car on a sweeping right-hand bend on Toorak Road, Inverloch. The man, who was thrown from the car as it rolled down a deep embankment, was witnessed speeding through the Inverloch Primary School crossing at about 3.25pm.
THE victim of a fatal collision in Inverloch last Wednesday afternoon was seen earlier by several people, speeding through a flagged school crossing in Bayview Avenue, at up to 100km/h at 3.28pm, just before school-out time.
The driver narrowly missed hitting school parent’s car at the intersection nearby and almost wiped out the school crossing supervisor who had just stepped out on the road with her ‘lolly pop’ sign.
Dozens of parents were in the area at the time, but fortunately, no children.
It was a short while later that the 28 year-old Sandy Point man came to grief when he lost control of his late model Ford Falcon car, on a sweeping right-hand bend on Toorak Road, before plunging to his death at the bottom of a stony creek bed.
The man was thrown from the car on impact and died at the scene.
The exact circumstances which led up to the crash are still being investigated by police, but they have already emphatically denied that they were chasing the man, either at the time he sped through the school crossing or when he crashed.
However claims of police involvement, when the man was allegedly seen speeding in other parts of the town, were enough to trigger a full-scale investigation by specialist police units last week involving the arrival in town of Assistant Commissioner Emmett Dunne to oversee the response.
According to Assistant Commissioner Dunne, local police received numerous calls from members of the public reporting an erratic driver in the Inverloch area around 3.30pm.
“Officers spotted the car on Bayview Avenue and again on Surf Parade and Venus Street but decided not to pursue it due to the fast rate of speed and erratic behaviour of the driver.
“A short time later, police were notified that the vehicle had crashed on Toorak Road.”
He said the driver was the sole occupant of the car which crashed down an embankment on Toorak Road, south-west of Goroke Street, at around 3.50pm.
“The Major Collision Investigation Group is investigating the incident and will prepare a report for the Coroner,” Assistant Commissioner Dunne said.
“The investigation will be over-seen by Professional Standards Command and IBAC (Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission) has been notified.”
Assistant Commissioner Dunne told the Sentinel-Times that “a South Gippsland resident in his late 20s” had died in the incident.
“I can’t release the man’s name until his family is notified but it’s a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family at this time.
“I’ll also be speaking to our police members who are not unaffected by these incidents.”
The car finally came to rest about 150 metres south of Goroke Street, beside Toorak Road, with the car travelling in the direction of Cape Paterson-Inverloch Road when it crashed.
It appears that the driver of a metallic blue Ford Falcon lost control on the bends where skid marks on the road surface indicate he tried to apply the brakes before going over a steep embankment.
The car was extensively damaged on the left-hand side, indicating at least a partial roll-over. The man’s body was located some distance from the car.
It came to rest on its wheels, 15 metres below the road, on a stony, storm-water creek bed at the rear of the Inverloch Surfside Caravan Park.
Residents of the park were unaware of the incident but Toorak Road was closed for several hours while police conducted exhaustive investigations.
Assistant Commissioner Dunn took the opportunity to underscore the importance of taking care on the road over the festive season.
“This is a very important time for family and friends to get together but it can all be ruined by tragic incidents on the road.
‘Police Chase’ Claims
ALTHOUGH police have been at pains to rule out any suggestion of a ‘police chase’ before a fatal road accident in Inverloch last Wednesday, it hasn’t stopped Facebook and the Twittersphere going into meltdown.
The Sentinel-Times’ Facebook page alone received 60 comments, some of them just as adamant that there was a police chase.
Philippe Sartorio: “We saw a Police car fly down Venus St towards town then saw a 1994 Ford blue V8 doing 100km on Ramsey Boulevard then a police car after him. Then sirens went off then a sound of a V8 flying down Venus St and was close to losing it on the s bend. The police car was not that far behind, another police car went up Abbott St.”
He went on to say that “this goes on all the time over summer in Inverloch – they fly up and down Ramsey Boulevard not as fast as this person but this was the first time we saw police and it’s about time they cracked down on this.”
Lollee Hart: “There was a police chase. Everyone saw and heard it. Try and get out of that!”
Others have rejected the claims:
Pip Smith: “If there was a chase, they can’t have been tailing him that closely (or they had backed off before the accident). Police took approximately two minutes to arrive at the scene.”
Kristy Malcolm: “I followed a police car up Ullathorne Road and it wasn’t flying, just driving safely through a residential area, it did have sirens going though. Very sad for all involved.”
Still others said police were only doing their job and were more concerned about what might have been if the driver had driven along Bayview Avenue two minutes later…
Tanya Starkey: “140 past a school zone and through busy beach areas at 3.30pm? Devastating for his family and friends but he made his choice and thank God it wasn’t one of our kids at that school or kinder instead.”
Kathryn Harrowfield: “My partner saw a car go past the Inverloch Primary School at extremely high speeds (approx 140kms) at about 3.28pm today. A blue metallic Ford sedan he thinks about 1990’s. He said it was lucky that Judy, the crossing lady, was not in the middle of the road with a bunch of kids.”
An investigation by police, overseen by the Coroner and the Professional Standards Unit, will establish the facts at a later date.
Tragedy at San Remo
DRIVER fatigue or distraction played a major part in the horrific three-vehicle crash which claimed the life of a Reservoir woman in San Remo last Friday, police believe.
Bass Coast Highway Patrol Sergeant Jason Hullick said the cause of the multi-vehicle collision has yet to be officially determined, but Victoria Police’s Major Collision Investigation Unit is continuing to look into why a ute driven by a 63 year-old man from Surf Beach veered onto the wrong side of the road before colliding with two vehicles.
Sgt Hullick confirmed speed was not a factor and alcohol had been ruled out after the driver was tested at the scene.
The deceased, aged 55, was in the second vehicle police believe collided with the Ford ute on Phillip Island Road at 3.50pm, close to Punchbowl Road.
Police believe the man first side-swiped a Toyota Kluger driven by a 60 year-old Korumburra man before colliding head-on with the Toyota Camry driven by the deceased.
The driver of the ute was airlifted to The Alfred Hospital with chest and leg injuries, while the driver of the Kluger was transported to Wonthaggi Hospital with minor injuries and soon released.
Sgt Hullick said the woman succumbed to major injuries and died at the scene after SES and CFA volunteers worked for 40 minutes to free her from the wrecked Camry, while ambulance crews attempted to stabilise her.
A 46 year-old motorcyclist from Cowes escaped during the incident after skidding his Harley Davidson off the road into long grass.
“The rider saw the whole collision unfold directly in front of him and has provided a statement to the police at the scene,” Sgt Hullick said.
Sgt Hullick said the driver from Surf Beach, who remains in hospital, was still to be interviewed and it may be some weeks before a cause of the accident is determined.
The only arterial in and out of San Remo and Phillip Island was closed for more than five hours, causing traffic chaos.
Traffic was already heavier than a regular Friday night due to holiday-makers venturing to the Island for the Christmas break.
Police set up road blocks at the Anderson roundabout and entrance to the newly-opened Link Road bypass.
Hundreds of cars and buses sat stationary as the sun went down, parking along the side of the road.
Sgt Hullick said police had ruled out any link between the accident and road works in the area.
“In fact, the portion of road where it occurred could be described as above average in condition and was some 600m from the end of the road works,” he said.
Sgt Hullick said the accident was a timely reminder for all motorists to be responsible and pull over for a break if feeling fatigued.
“I urge all motorists to plan your trip ahead of time, take a break and please do not fall into the trap of thinking that ‘my destination is just around the corner’,” he said.
Fatigue is a major killer on our roads and has been identified as one of the Fatal Five Factors contributing to road trauma, along with drink/drug driving, speed, seatbelts not being worn or worn correctly and distraction offences such as mobile phone use.”
Police are interested in speaking with anyone who may have seen the vehicles involved just prior to the collision. Witnesses are urged to contact Bass Coast Highway Patrol on 5671 4191 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
AS WE countdown to Christmas and New Year, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about a few important things to remember this holiday season – staying safe and looking after our loved ones.
The holidays are a great time to celebrate with friends, but this busier period also calls for some additional mindfulness and care to ensure we stay safe.
With more people on the roads, tired and trying to get to their destination, risks of accidents also increase.
I urge everyone to take care on the road over summer.
Be patient, be sensible and be safe.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank and acknowledge the extra work Victoria Police do over the summer holidays to help keep us all safe.
Our fantastic police force has enough to do – don’t become another one of their jobs!
We finally felt summer arrive last week with some scorching hot weather. We’re so lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country where we can enjoy the sunshine by heading to the beach or getting out and about on our many walking tracks.
Nothing spoils a great holiday, however, like sunburn and dehydration. Please do make sure you are being SunSmart and Slip, Slop, Slap when heading outdoors. Also, make sure that your pets have access to plenty of shade and cold water.
While we all love our bush, the hotter weather also brings an increased risk of bushfires.
Please obey fire restrictions and be mindful of the risks.
Importantly, each one of us is responsible for reducing fuel load in our properties. This means keeping grass cut, clear dead vegetation and clean out your gutters. By doing this, you reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading.
In January, there will be no council meeting and my column will too take a break. Council offices, however, are open as usual, excluding public holidays.
Finally, I want to wish you all a happy and safe holiday season. Summer holidays are a time to be enjoyed, so make sure you do so safely and responsibly!