By Kirra Grimes
AN elderly driver who crashed his car into a pedestrian and then a brick wall on the busy main street of Inverloch last week will “most likely” be subject to a medical review to assess whether his licence should be suspended or cancelled.
Police, SES, CFA and paramedics attended A’Beckett Street around 11am last Tuesday, January 7, after a man reportedly drove his vehicle onto the footpath, coming into contact with a female pedestrian, before crashing into the side wall of an office building, located between Reilly Street and Ramsey Boulevard.
The driver and his one passenger, his son, walked away from the crash unharmed; but the pedestrian, an Inverloch woman aged in her 30s, was taken to Wonthaggi Hospital with upper body injuries.
The western end of A’Beckett Street was closed to traffic for several hours following the incident, and all parked cars were cleared from the area, as emergency services held concerns about the structural integrity of the damaged building.
It was eventually deemed safe to tow the vehicle and reopen the road later that day, however temporary fencing remains in place around the scene, with pedestrian access expected to be restricted for “quite some time,” according to Inverloch police.
The cause of the crash is undetermined, but police are treating it as an accident.
At the scene on Tuesday, Sergeant Brent Lawrence said witnesses had reported hearing a motor revving before seeing the car on the footpath, suggesting the driver may have “mixed up the accelerator and the brake” while attempting to park.
First Constable Mick Gauci, who’s leading the investigation, told the Sentinel-Times late last week it was unlikely the driver would be charged.
“We’re still looking into it but there will most likely be a medical review and Vic Roads will decide the rest,” he said.
The driver and his son declined to comment when approached by the Sentinel-Times. According to police, they are not local to the area.
While expressing sympathy for the woman injured in the incident, witnesses said it was very lucky more people weren’t hurt.
The street had been bustling that morning, with scores of summer holiday visitors making their way between its shops and eateries.
Among them was Kevin Mackay of Cranbourne, who was sitting in a café at the time of the crash, and knew something big had happened when “everybody stopped and all the heads turned in one direction”.
“At first, I thought there’d been an explosion at the supermarket because it looked like people were running that way,” Kevin said.
“We came down and saw the car first and I said ‘it’s a wonder nobody got hit’ because the street was so busy…
“Then I saw the young woman. She was conscious and sitting up but she’d ended up a fair way off the footpath. The driver was obviously stunned because he didn’t get out [of the car] for a long time.
“The emergency response was amazing. Police must have been cruising past because they were there immediately,” he said.
Kevin visits Inverloch “every other weekend” and said parking bungles seemed to be a common occurrence on A’Beckett Street.
The latest incident was much more concerning for a town where “you expect to be safe,” he said.
The owner of the damaged office building, Blair Hodges, was counting his blessings following the crash.
“I’m normally sitting just on the other side of that wall,” he said, pointing to the broken bricks.
“But I only use it [the office] casually, a few times a week; there was no one in there today,” he told the Sentinel-Times on Tuesday.
Unsure whether it was just the damaged wall that would have to come down, or the entire building, Blair was looking on the bright side.
“It’s been on the agenda to do a makeover, so I guess it’s going to happen now!” he said.