13 July, 2024
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Police interview driver behind deadly pub crash

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Police have interviewed but not charged the man behind the wheel of a car that ploughed through a roadside beer garden in regional Victoria, killing five people.

Three groups were sitting outside the Royal Daylesford Hotel on Sunday when a BMW SUV mounted the kerb and hit patrons.

The 66-year-old driver from Mount Macedon has been in hospital since the incident and was interviewed there.

Enquiries will continue after his eventual release from care, police said in a statement.

Migration agent Pratibha Sharma, 44, her nine-year-old daughter Anvi and partner Jatin Chugh, 30, were among those killed in the crash.

Ms Sharma has been remembered as a selfless and community-oriented person who volunteered with Australian Sikh Support from 2020 to deliver food boxes to people quarantining and students facing hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pratibha and her partner and daughter usually came up in the warehouse with their own car and in the warehouse they were helping us packaging the food and sorting the boxes,” Gurjit Singh from Australian Sikh Support told AAP.

Ms Sharma had run for state parliament and local council and was admitted as a lawyer in June.

 Migration agent Pratibha Sharma was among five people killed in the crash. Image by HANDOUT/AUSTRALIAN SIKH SUPPORT 

A 38-year-old Tarneit man, named in media outlets as Vivek Bhatia, and his 11-year-old son were also killed.

His 36-year-old wife Ruchi Bhatia and six-year-old son were hospitalised.

Friends of Ms Bhatia have set up a fundraiser for her and her surviving son and said the happy family had recently bought a house after becoming permanent residents.

“It will be a long way to recovery and to get over this unbearable loss,” organiser Amandeep Kuar said on the fundraising page.

An 11-month-old boy was injured but was discharged from hospital on Tuesday.

The baby’s mother was not injured, but a 43-year-old Kyneton woman and a 38-year-old Cockatoo man with them were taken to hospital. The man was also discharged on Tuesday, while the woman remains in a stable condition.

Hepburn Shire Council Mayor Brian Hood said the tragedy was being felt throughout the community and beyond.

“The community grief was palpable at (Monday’s) vigil in Daylesford. It was very moving to come together in this way,” he said in a statement.

A second memorial service was held for the victims by the local Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches in Daylesford on Tuesday.

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