A driver who ploughed his SUV into a packed beer garden killing five people appeared to have suffered a medical episode, with his eyes ‘glazed over’, witnesses said.
The out-of-control white BMW X5, allegedly driven by a 66-year-old man from Mt Macedon, slammed into patrons seated in the courtyard of the historic Royal Hotel at Daylesford, about 90 minutes’ drive northwest of Melbourne, at 6.05pm on Sunday.
The pub was packed with hundreds of customers in the hours before the crash due to the unofficial long weekend before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday.
There were also many families in the beer garden that day because the space was being used by customers of an ice cream shop set up on the lawn.
It’s believed the five victims- a little boy believed to be aged six, a teenage girl, two adult men and one woman – were from two families that knew each other and who were visiting Daylesford for the day.
Police also confirmed the two families were only visiting Daylesford for the day when they were killed in the horrific crash.
Witnesses believe the 66-year-old man was experiencing a medical episode, with one claiming the man’s eyes appeared to be ‘glazed over’.
However, Victoria Police is still investigating the exact cause of the crash. No drugs or alcohol has been found in the driver’s system.
The white BMW X5 (pictured) ploughed into patrons seated in the courtyard of the historic Royal Hotel at Daylesford, north west of Melbourne at 6.05pm on Sunday
The out-of-control white BMW X5, driven by a a 66-year-old man from Mt Macedon, ploughed into patrons seated in the courtyard. Above, drink glasses remain left on the table
A forensic officer is seen marking evidence on the ground outside the pub on Monday morning
One woman told Daily Mail Australia she watched on in horror as the car barrelled down the road and into the crowded tables.
‘It was just an explosion. There were bodies everywhere,’ she said.
The driver appeared to have suffered some kind of medical episode.
‘His eyes were glazed over. Not like he was drugged but had some kind of attack,’ the witness said, suggesting it could have been diabetes.
The driver was stayed sat behind the wheel in stunned silence while people rushed to help those injured in the accident.
Other witnesses said the driver appeared to be struggling in his vehicle just moments before he hit the accelerator and raced down a steep hill into the beer garden.
The man was later seen being placed on a drip and was among the last to be taken away to hospital.
‘I just saw a family on the ground and I wanted to kill him,’ the woman said. ‘He’s wiped out a whole family I reckon. I saw the little boy and it just broke my heart.’
A witness told ABC Local Radio the car crashed into a new area of the hotel which was filled with families enjoying the long weekend.
‘The car crashed into an area that has been set up really post-Covid with lots of tables and chairs, not just for the Royal Hotel, there’s an ice cream shop there as well, so there (would have been) a lot of families,’ the witness said.
‘And it was a really warm night, and we’ve got a long weekend… so it was pretty busy last night.’
Distraught witnesses hug near the crime scene on Monday morning
One witness said she saw the car go ‘up in the sky’ and thought she saw a cloud of dust explode – but now realises it was ‘bodies’
Eye witnesses said the badly-damaged BMW remained on the scene as emergency services arrived and frantically rushed to the aid of the injured patrons
Victoria Police Superintendent John Fitzpatrick said investigators were still trying to determine what happened and were waiting to interview the driver.
It’s understood the driver, who was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, did not have drugs or alcohol in his system.
Superintendent Fitzpatrick said the scene was extremely confronting, and it was likely friends and family watched their loved ones die.
‘I haven’t seen something this drastic for a long time. Any time you have five people die at the one scene – it’s horrible,’ Mr Fitzpatrick said.
‘We don’t like to see anyone lose their life, but to see a child – you never want to see anything like that.’
Local woman, Rhonda White, who has lived in Daylesford for 40 years, said the usually quiet country town was transformed into a scene worse than any movie.
She saw bodies vaporised into a cloud of blood and gore when they were struck at speed by the car.
‘There were bodies everywhere. It was horrifying. I watched the whole crash,’ she said.
‘The car went up into the sky. I thought it was just dust. It’s only now I know it was bodies. I can’t explain what I saw, something I wouldn’t even see in a movie.
‘The car going up, flicking lights and I only realised later, they were all bodies around us – they were bodies I was watching.’
Ms White described people ‘screaming and shouting’ in the aftermath, scarcely able to believe what they’d seen.
Another local woman working next door to the pub said it was the most ‘traumatic’ thing she’d ever seen.
Her staff walked outside to see bodies lying on the pavement.
‘We’re all pretty shocked,’ she said. ‘It’s pretty bad, I’ve never seen anything so traumatic in my life.’
Forensic teams remain at the scene, with a fallen power pole still blocking traffic (pictured)
A discarded shoe is seen at the crash site (pictured)
Investigators are still trying to determine the circumstances surrounding the crash (pictured, forensic officers inspecting debris the crash site)
Trevor Weston from Ambulance Victoria said the crash site was extremely confronting and distressing for first responders.
‘It was obviously very confronting and quite chaotic when the first initial crews arrived… there were a number of injured persons being assisted by members of the public and other patrons in the facility,’ Mr Weston told Sunrise on Monday.
‘Any incident involving children is obviously that next level distressing for our paramedics.’
Crews that responded last night did so professionally and provided the best care they could for all of those patients.’
Mr Weston said first responders were debriefed on Sunday night, with Ambulance Victoria providing further welfare and support for the coming days and weeks as needed.
Mr Weston added Daylesford’s ‘close-knit’ community was reeling from the horror crash.
I can only imagine what community would be feeling this morning, with a close-knit community and some of the initial crews responding were from Daylesford,’ Mr Weston said.
‘Of course our thoughts are with them and you never want to respond to an incident like this especially in your home town.’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese shared a touching tribute to the victims whose lives were ‘cruelly cut short’.
‘We are all shocked by what happened in Daylesford, and so deeply saddened – for those whose lives were cruelly cut short, and for those who can never be the same again,’ Mr Albanese wrote on social media.
‘The hearts of all Australians go out to everyone affected, including loved ones, friends, first responders and the Daylesford community.’
The badly damaged BMW remained on the scene as emergency services arrived and frantically rushed to the aid of the injured patrons.
Its bumper bar was all but torn off and its bonnet crushed from the force of the impacts.
Police, ambulance and fire crews, plus the Victorian SES all quickly converged on the scene.
The horror crash put a further seven people in hospitals from Ballarat to Melbourne, including four who had to be airlifted and are fighting for their lives.
One of them is the driver of the BMW, a 67-year-old man from Mt Macedon, whom eye witnesses saw sitting motionless in his car for 10 minutes after the devastating impact.
The pub is understood to have been busy all weekend and the courtyard – overlooking the town’s roundabout – is said to have been ‘packed’ at the time.
The pub was busy with hundreds of patrons in the hours before the crash due to the unofficial long weekend before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday
A woman from a business next to the Royal Daylesford said she and her staff were all ‘shaken up’ after seeing some of the bodies on the pavement
The pub is understood to have been busy all weekend and the courtyard – overlooking the town’s roundabout – is said to have been ‘packed’ at the time
Four rescue helicopters were dispatched to collect the seriously injured victims. Dozens of police and multiple ambulances crews also rushed to the scene.
A man from nearby Sailor’s Falls, just south of Daylesford, said ‘many sirens and emergency vehicles were screaming through’ town at before 7pm on a local community Facebook page.
The proprietor of a pizza restaurant near the hotel rushed outside when she heard a ‘loud bang’.
‘There was some kind of collision in the roundabout, I don’t know how many cars were involved,’ the restaurant owner, Kitty Martin told The Herald Sun.
‘The car looked pretty bad. It looks like it has hit something pretty hard. Apparently it went through a pole.’
One person said the pub was bustling on Sunday.
‘The Royal was packed with patrons outside all weekend,’ she wrote on social media.
Another said The Royal Hotel was one of the region’s most popular venues. A worker at a nearby restaurant said the car involved was ‘messed up’.
‘There are a lot of people outside,’ she said.
An eye witness reported the driver of the vehicle remained seated inside his car for up to 10 minutes without moving after the crash at the Royal Hotel (pictured) at Daylesford
Eye witnesses said the badly-damaged vehicle remained on the scene as emergency services arrived and frantically rushed to the aid of the injured patrons.
Paramedics flew four patients to Melbourne for treatment, including one child.
The child was flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Two adults were flown to Royal Melbourne Hospital and one adult was flown to the Alfred Hospital, all with serious injuries.
Paramedics have also taken two patients to Ballarat and one patient to Royal Melbourne, in serious but stable conditions.
Victoria Police confirmed the crash on social media on Sunday evening.
‘Emergency services are currently at the scene of a fatal crash in Daylesford,’ a police statement said.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk