Melbourne, Australia: Five members of two Indian-origin families in Australia, including two children, were killed when a luxury SUV ploughed into a packed outdoor dining area of a pub in Melbourne, leaving the Indian community devastated.
Vivek Bhatia (38), his son Vihan (11), Pratibha Sharma (44), her daughter, Anvi (nine), and partner Jatin Chugh (30) died after the BMW mounted a kerb and hit patrons on the front lawn of the Royal Daylesford hotel on Sunday evening, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Ms Sharma and her family were enjoying a holiday with family friends, Mr Bhatia and his son Vihaan, who died instantly in the crash, while Mr Bhatia’s 36-year-old wife, Ruchi, and six-year-old son Abeer were taken to hospital with serious injuries, the report said.
Abeer was initially in critical condition with broken legs and internal injuries but has since been stabilised.
There are many others, including a baby, who were injured in the accident and have been shifted to a hospital for treatment.
The driver of the white BMW Sports Utility Vehicle has been interviewed by police in hospital following the crash.
The unnamed man, a 66-year-old from Mount Macedon, was spoken to by police on Tuesday but was not arrested or charged.
“At this time the driver has not been charged, with inquiries to continue after his eventual release from care,” a police statement provided to the Herald Sun said.
Meanwhile, the distraught family of one of the crash victims, Sharma, has revealed their final conversation with the beloved mum.
Her father Vikas said she had spoken to her mother Urmila just two hours before her death.
“She said they were staying in a beautiful house all together,” he told the Herald Sun.
Urmila said: “She said: tomorrow I will come (home) early”.
She said they tried to call Pratibha later that night but there was “no reply”.
“We thought it was okay and there was no need to disturb them because they were enjoying themselves,” he said, expressing his disbelief at his hardworking daughter’s untimely death.
“Why? Why? I don’t understand,” he said. “Her whole life she struggled, worked hard. Her beautiful daughter is also dead.” The Sharma family were from Point Cook, near Tarneit.
A close family friend of Sharma’s said she had just found love after spending years as a single mother.
Sharma, who once ran for Victorian parliament for the seat of Werribee as an independent candidate, worked as a registered migration agent before recently becoming a lawyer.
The horror crash has left the small Victorian town north of Melbourne in a state of shock and grief. The Indian community is in mourning following their deaths, with multiple people taking to social media to express their grief.
“Very shocking news, one of our friends and our Australian Sikh Support dedicated volunteer Pratibha Sharma from Melbourne, her husband Jatin, their daughter Anvi and their two friends, died in an unfortunate accident,” one user wrote.
“Pratibha always along with her family members have worked tirelessly for volunteer initiatives for the community.” Another user said it was a “big loss for our community”.
“Very shocking and saddened to hear about Pratibha Sharma, her husband Jatin Chugh, their daughter Anvi, another Indian community member, Vivek Bhatia and his son’s demise in Daylesford’s tragic car crash,” another wrote.
The driver’s lawyer Martin Amad said he was an insulin-dependent diabetic who required immediate treatment from paramedics at the scene.
He noted his client was a family man with no criminal history and he returned a negative blood alcohol reading after the crash.
“He is deeply distressed and feels great empathy with the families and friends of the victims and the Daylesford community,” Mr Amad said on Wednesday.
(This story has been published from a syndicated feed.)