What was supposed to be a fun long weekend away for the Bhatia and Sharma families will now be remembered for the most tragic of reasons by their heartbroken relatives and friends.
Pratibha Sharma, 44, had known Vivek Bhatia, 38, and Ruchi Bhatia, 36, for 10 years and the trio, along with Ms Sharma’s new partner Jatin Chugh, 30, decided to take their children to Daylesford to enjoy the Melbourne Cup public holiday in Victoria.
Their tranquil four-day break was suddenly interrupted on Sunday evening as a BMW X5 SUV hurtled down a hill and ploughed into them as they enjoyed food and drinks outside Daylesford’s Royal Hotel.
The impact killed Ms Sharma and Mr Chugh, from Point Cook, as well as Mr Bhatia and his 11-year-old son, from Tarneit. Ms Sharma’s daughter Anvi, 9, would die later in hospital.
Ms Bhatia and her six-year-old were badly hurt and rushed to hospital, but they lived.
The Bhatia family was torn apart by the horrific accident at Daylesford. Pictured: Vivek Bhatia, 38, with his youngest boy and Ruchi Bhatia, 36, with their eldest. Mr Bhatia and the eldest boy died when the BMW slammed into pub patrons
Pratibha Sharma (left), who had recently graduated as a lawyer, was described as a kindhearted, noble and talented woman. She is pictured with her daughter Anvi, 9 and husband Jatin Chugh. All three died in the tragic crash
The huge sense of loss weighed heavily on the hearts of Daylesford locals as hundreds gathered for a sombre vigil at 6pm on Monday, exactly 24 hours after the shocking crash
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 (beer garden pictured on Monday)
The white BMW X5 (pictured) ploughed into patrons seated in the courtyard of the historic Royal Hotel at Daylesford
Another group of diners, including a 43-year-old Kyneton woman, a 38-year-old Cockatoo man and an 11-month-old boy were injured.
The 66-year-old BMW driver, who was also hospitalised, is understood to have suffered a medical episode.
Mr Bhatia was described as ‘a really good dad’ by family friend Bhupinder Bhullar.
His eldest boy was ‘really cheeky’.
Ms Bhullar told the Herald Sun that Mr Bhatia’s family was completely devastated.
Ms Sharma, a mum and lawyer who lived with her elderly parents, was an aspiring politician who also worked as domestic violence advocate and community volunteer.
Between her community work and supporting her daughter and parents, Ms Sharma found the time to pass the bar exams.
She had passed her bar exam and was admitted as a Lawyer in Supreme Court Of Victoria in June.
In a clear indication of the special bond between mother and daughter, Anvi handwrote a note for her mum’s special day, which Ms Sharma posted to social media.
It read: ‘How good of a mum are you? The best of the best. How much effort you put into everything? 10/10. Great job you are officially a crime lawyer and the best mom, I love you sooo muchhh.’
Mother Pratibha Sharma (pictured: lower left), 44, and her husband Jatin Chugh (top left), 30, and Ms Sharma’s daughter Anvi Sharma, 9, were killed when a BMW SUV slammed into pub patrons at Daylesford on Sunday
Just three months ago, Pratibha Sharma (pictured right) celebrated passing her bar exams and being admitted as a lawyer with her daughter Anvi, 9, who wrote a heartfelt letter congratulating her on the achievement. Both died on Sunday night
Anvi wrote a touching letter to her mum after she passed the bar
Ms Sharma also posted a favourite saying which summed up her outlook on life: ‘Say something positive, and you’ll see something positive.’
In recent years she ran for Victorian state parliament as an independent candidate for Werribee and then again as a candidate in the Wyndham City Council elections.
She was remembered as a ‘happy, courageous and compassionate’ woman with a bright future and an unfailing positive outlook.
Heartbroken Melbourne educator Dr Sonia Singh described Ms Sharma as ‘my dearest friend’ on social media.
‘You were a gem and glue who kept all of us friends together always.
‘I don’t know if I will be able to bear this loss ever.’
Ms Sharma was also praised for her work volunteering during the pandemic, when she delivered groceries and food hampers for the Australian Sikh Support community group in Melbourne’ south-west.
‘She was very active and community-centric and sometimes she would come into the warehouse with her father and sometimes her daughter,’ Australian Sikh Support secretary Gurjit Singh told The Australian.
‘She would bring her own car and get the food boxes and deliver them to the Point Cook area. She also helped immigration with student visas.’
Anvi was described as a bright and bubby girl.
‘I remember I saw her perform at an event in Point Cook. She was doing a Bollywood dance. She came smiling and running to greet her parents. That’s my memory of her daughter,’ Jasvinder Sidhu recalled.
He described his friend Ms Sharma as a successful, outgoing and brave.
‘I met her at various Indian community events, she was in advocacy work and did a lot of work for women. I believe why people are shocked is because she was self-made, it’s not common to see women from migrant backgrounds succeed on their own,’ Mr Sidhu added
Pratibha Sharma and her husband Jatin Chugh were among the five people who died while stead at tables beside the Royal Hotel in Daylesford just after 6pm on Sunday, 110km north-west of Melbourne
Shell-shocked family friend Preet Singh told the Herald Sun he was struggling to process their losses.
‘It is incredibly shocking,’ he said, as he headed to the family’s Point Cook home in south-west Melbourne to be with Ms Sharma’s devastated elderly parents.
‘She was so happy, everything was going right for her, Mr Singh said, adding that she had a ‘bright future’.
Daljeet Bakshi from Victoria’s Sikh community described Ms Sharma as ‘a lovely soul’ and said memories of her, Mr Chugh and little Anvi will ‘remain in the hearts’ of all who knew them forever.
‘She was always helpful, out in the community.’
‘Pratibha Sharma was a noble person who was doing a whole lot of great work for the community here,’ a woman posted to Facebook.
Investigators said the families were thrown at least 20 metres onto the road by the impact of the BMW.
The severity of the accident and the huge sense of loss weighed heavily on the hearts of Daylesford locals as around 100 of them gathered for a sombre vigil on Monday evening.
Mayor Brian Hood said the events of exactly 24 hours earlier would have an ‘everlasting impact’ on Daylesford.
‘It was such a severe event, the scale and size of it, the impact of it, it will have an impact for quite some time,’ he told mourners.
Vivek Bhatia (left) and his eldest son (front right) were killed. His wife Ruchi Bhatia (right) and his youngest son were injured but survived
Pictured: A graphic showing how the Daylesford car crash on Sunday unfolded
The driver, 66, from Mount Macedonhas spent a second night in hospital under police guard and is expected to be interviewed on Tuesday.
Witnesses say the white BMW X5 was coming down a hill on Albert Street when the driver suddenly accelerated ‘like a rocket’, mounted the curb and slammed into picnic tables out the front of the pub.
The hotel was heaving with guests due to the unofficial long weekend before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday, with families gathering near an ice cream shop set up on the lawn.
The BMW then veered towards the road, barrelled into a lamp post, and finally came to a stop at a roundabout a few metres away from the hotel, on Howe Street.
The driver did not drugs or alcohol in his system at the time, and has a full and unrestricted licence.
One woman told Daily Mail Australia the driver appeared to have had a medical episode behind the wheel.
‘Not like he was drugged but had some kind of attack,’ she explained, suggesting it could have been diabetes.
The witness said: ‘It was just an explosion. There were bodies everywhere.’
Forensic teams remain at the scene, with a fallen power pole still blocking traffic (pictured)
A police officer could be seen removing a pram from the scene on Monday (pictured)
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.
Victoria Police says it is still investigating the exact cause of the crash.
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.’
The pub at the historic Royal Hotel at Daylesford will remain closed until Thursday.
Community members gathered on Monday to pay tribute to the five people who died in Daylesford