Easter motorists were caught in a 10km long traffic jam between Nyora and Lang Lang after South Gippsland Highway traffic was diverted along McDonalds Track following a fatal crash.
POLICE say a 37 year-old female driver from Mardan was allegedly overtaking cars, across double lines, on a bend in the South Gippsland Highway at Nyora when she collided with another car travelling west from Leongatha.
The incident occurred shortly before 9.30am on Easter Monday morning.
The second car, being driven by Leongatha and former Welshpool identity, Max Wood, was extensively damaged in the head-on crash that followed and tragically, Mr Wood’s wife Rosemary, aged 74, who was a passenger in the car, was killed.
Both Mr Wood, aged 80, and the driver of the silver sedan which allegedly caused the collision, reportedly sustained very serious injuries, Mr Wood’s being described as “life threatening”.
The Leongatha man was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital and the driver of the other vehicle from Mardan, to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The fatality was one of three road deaths across Victoria on Easter Monday pushing the state’s weekend road toll to four after a relatively safe holiday weekend, apart from the death of a motorcycle rider who hit a tree at Baxter on Saturday night.
With debris from the collision strewn across both lanes of the road, the South Gippsland Highway had to be closed between 9.30am and 4.10pm, at the height of the return of Easter weekend traffic, while Major Collision Investigation Unit police conducted a thorough investigation at the scene.
Traffic travelling in the direction of Melbourne was diverted through the Nyora township and along McDonalds Track to Lang Lang which was hosting its annual rodeo. It resulted in an unavoidable traffic jam, at one stage covering upwards of 10 kilometres as holiday traffic built up during the afternoon.
As well as catching holiday traffic from a booked out Wilsons Promontory and all points east, participants in a major scout jamboree at Nyora and golfers from the Lang Lang Golf Course also had to be diverted back down McDonalds Track.
Bass Coast Highway Patrol Acting Sergeant, Allan Piening, who was the officer in charge of the crash scene, said it was a terribly tragic way to finish the Easter break after what had been a relatively safe period on the roads.
He said police officers had put in a huge effort, up and down the major routes, to raise awareness in an effort to keep the roads safe over the holiday weekend only to be called to the scene of a fatality as motorists were returning home on Monday.
The four fatal accidents in Victoria over the weekend brought the state’s tally for the year to 76 dead, as compared to 75 for the same time last year, with 19 people being killed nationally over the Easter break.
There were eight lives lost in Queensland, in addition to the four deaths in Victoria, with four fatalities in NSW, two in Western Australia and one in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, while the ACT remained fatality-free.
Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the collision on the South Gippsland Highway on Easter Monday morning or saw either vehicle in the lead up to the incident to come forward.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au