The lawyer for a driver at the centre of a tragic crash that killed five people in Daylesford last week has spoken about the incident after police interviewed his client last Wednesday.
Solicitor Martin Amad, who is representing the 66-year-old Mount Macedon driver, described his client as a “family man” with no prior criminal history.
“He is deeply distressed and feels great empathy with the families and friends of the victims and of the wider Daylesford community,” he said.
“He returned a negative alcohol reading at the scene. He is an insulin-dependent diabetic and required immediate treatments by paramedics at the scene.
“My client has been interviewed by Victoria Police. He has not been charged with any offence. It is anticipated that the investigation will take some time.”
Police confirmed the driver has not been charged at this time, with enquiries to continue after his release from care.
Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives continue to investigate the exact circumstances of the collision at The Royal Daylesford on November 5.
Emergency services were called to reports a BMW SUV mounted the kerb and struck multiple patrons on the front lawn area of the Vincent Street pub just after 6pm.
Melbourne lawyer Pratibha Sharma, 44, and partner Jatin Chugh, 30, both of Point Cook, were killed in the tragic incident. Pratibha’s nine-year-old daughter Anvi was rushed to hospital but later died.
The family’s friend Vivek Bahtia, 38, and his 11-year-old son Vihaan, were also killed in the tragedy.
Bahtia’s 36-year-old wife Ruchi and other son, aged six, were injured and both remain in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
A 43-year-old Kyneton woman, a 38-year-old Cockatoo man and an 11-month-old baby boy were taken to hospital. The baby and the 38-year-old man have since been discharged. The 43-year-old woman remains in hospital in a stable condition.
A community vigil was held last week with the community, and friends and family of those deceased or injured in the incident, coming together.
Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said the vigil was an important opportunity for the Daylesford community to support one another and express their sorrow for those who have lost their lives, their loved ones, and those still recovering.
“Daylesford is an iconic tourist destination and an inclusive community. That a picture-perfect weekend could end in such tragedy is deeply distressing for all the locals who work hard to make all visitors and holidaymakers welcome,” she said.
“Our first responders, CFA and SES volunteers, Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria paramedics, have each done an incredible job in the most challenging of circumstances – we are grateful for their service, and as a community offer our comfort and support. “I am pleased that our emergency service agencies are on hand to support their members through debriefing and peer support.”
Hepburn Shire and Central Highlands Rural Health are working closely together to ensure access to free counselling for affected community members.
The Royal Daylesford reopened its doors from 4pm on Wednesday afternoon following the incident, offering the venue as space where the community could come together.
“We are still in shock and so incredibly saddened by the tragic and horrific incident that occurred outside our hotel on Sunday,” the owners said.
“Of utmost importance to us right now, is the health and wellbeing of every single person in our community.
“With thorough consultation, including the community leaders, emergency services and Daylesford police, we will be opening the hotel to provide a venue where everyone can come together to support each other through this very difficult time.
“Once again, our hearts go out to all the impacted families and friends. Words are difficult to find in expressing our deepest sympathy and sadness for what has happened.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident, has CCTV, dashcam footage or any other information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at: crimestoppersvic.com.au