Two of four women killed in a car crash while coming home from a dance in country Victoria were holding hands when they passed away, with the police describing the scene as “horrific” and “surreal”.
It has been a horror weekend on Victoria’s roads with eight people killed in separate car crashes across the state – seven on country roads.
The worst incident happened on Saturday evening when four women died in a two-car collision in western Victoria.
The women were returning home from a line dancing function at St Arnaud when their car was hit at Navarre, near Ararat.
Dianne Barr, 64 from Heywood, Claudia Jackson, 72 from Portland, and Tess Ely and Elaine Middleton, from Hamilton and aged in their mid-70s, were all killed.
The female driver of the second vehicle, a 64-year-old from Stawell, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
She has not yet been interviewed by police.
Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer from Victoria Police said it appeared the woman driving alone failed to stop at an intersection.
“There was no breaking, it was a classic t-bone crash and the elderly women had no chance whatsoever, there was no opportunity to take evasive action,” he said.
“Going to that scene and seeing that scene, whilst horrific, it was also surreal. You had four women who looked like they were just asleep – they’ve died from internal injuries.
“The vision I won’t forget is that the driver was holding the hand of her front seat passenger as she passed.
“It’s that sort of image that my members, community members – the people who went to help – will never forget.”
Assistant Commissioner Fryer said eight deaths in 24 hours should never have happened, and urged people to take more care.
“What it highlights to me is the fragility of life, that at the blink of an eye with one mistake lives can be taken away,” he said.
“You’ve got people driving around in two tonne of steel, coupled with speed, coupled with complacency is why these crashes have all happened.
“People haven’t watched, they’ve made a minor mistake with fatal consequences.”
Women had been dancing together for decades
The women were part of the Hamilton Bootscooters dance club and were taking part in an annual workshop at St Arnaud.
Linda Rook from the club said the four women had decided to go home that afternoon, while eight others stayed at a local motel.
“We heard it by someone who had heard there was a crash … then when I’ve got really serious thinking ‘maybe’, I’ve tried ringing their mobile phones and none of them answered,” she said.
“I did that for probably close on an hour and then rang their homes, they still weren’t home. And then got notified by one of the family members that yes it was them.”
Ms Rook said they had been dancing and socialising together for 23 years, and were all grandmothers.
Four killed in separate crashes, teen fights for life
Victoria’s Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the incidents over the weekend were a timely reminder to take care on the roads.
“It just highlights how we can think that we’re getting on top of this, that we’re getting on top of the number of lives lost,” he said.
“We all need to be careful, we all need to work together to actually ensure that we work towards a future where we don’t have serious injury on our roads, where we don’t lose lives.”
A man died at 2:30am on Sunday at Heathcote Junction, near Wallan, when he apparently lost control of the car he was driving and went through a farm fence.
He died at the scene despite the efforts of emergency services. The four passengers in the car were uninjured, police said.
At Bright, in the state’s north-east, a man died when he hit a tree while travelling alone along the Great Alpine Road about 10:30pm on Saturday.
Earlier in Preston, a 58-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a bus at the intersection of High Street and Miller Street.
At 3:30am on Saturday morning a woman was killed when the car she was a passenger in left the road on the Melba Highway at Dixons Creek and crashed into a steep embankment.
She died at the scene, while the female driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
At Drysdale, an 18-year-old man was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries after the car he was in smashed into a power pole.
Another 18-year-old man, who was behind the wheel, suffered minor injuries and a third man was unharmed.