POLICE say it was lucky no one was injured when a car ploughed through a shopfront in the middle of Wonthaggi’s CBD last Wednesday.
The centre of town was brought to a standstill, with dozens of traders and shoppers looking on in shock as emergency services arrived to assist the elderly driver just after 10.30am.
Bass Coast Highway Patrol Senior Constable Paul Malouf said the driver, a local man in his 80s, had just used the nearby ATM and was attempting to reverse out of a car parking space.
Snr Const Malouf said it appeared the driver panicked after his foot got stuck by a pedal and, with the car in the wrong gear, he drove up the gutter and through the front window of Coldon Homes’ brand new sales centre.
Witness Michael Braumann said he was driving by the parked vehicle when the accident occurred.
“I saw it was parked there and then suddenly wheels were spinning so fast you could see smoke,” he said.
“I jumped out of the car after it happened, but by that stage several people were already running over trying to help.”
Kris Baker, manager of Wonthaggi Tyrepower, was one of the first to react.
“I was next door at Rob’s (Fast Food) and I thought the roof was caving in when I heard the noise,” he said.
“Then I looked outside and saw a lady had yanked a little girl towards the other end of the footpath.
“I then ran out the front door and saw (the driver) still had his foot on the accelerator and the wheels were spinning.
“Another bloke who had run across the road reached in and turned the ignition off.”
It was an unfortunate turn of events for Coldon Homes since the new office had opened its doors the day before.
The building company’s Facebook page had advertised the new office was open for business less than an hour before the sedan smashed into reception.
Coldon’s managing director, Keith Donohue, said he hopes the sales centre will be up and running after repairs are completed in about a fortnight.
“The main thing is there were no pedestrians there and, fortunately, our staff member was sitting in the back room at the time,” Mr Donohue said.
“Just the day before, we were actually sitting in the front room having a meeting right where the car came through.”
Apart from the large window panes and bricks in the front wall, Mr Donohue said furniture had also been damaged inside the premises.