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Man’s ride of his life

Video footage of the car travelling down the footpath in McCartin Street, as captured by a security camera at Discount King.

LEONGATHA is praising a miracle: no one was killed or injured last week when an 86-year-old man hurtled along the McCartin Street footpath for 120m, before levelling the town’s cenotaph and crashing through a roundabout.

Police are still investigating the incident, but it appears the Leongatha man was attempting to park outside Thornton’s Bakery at about 9.18am last Thursday, when he engaged his accelerator rather than his brake.

Taking the bakery’s outdoor furniture with him, he continued along Leongatha’s main shopping strip at speed.

Bakery manager Sandra Wilson feared one of her workers had been killed.

“I thought one of the girls in the shop had passed out and fallen through the glass,” she said.

“I was down the back, packing. I expected to see one of them dead on the ground. I froze for a minute.

“Then I came down and saw all the tables and chairs on the ground outside.”

CCTV footage from the shop would show the car’s erratic entry onto the footpath from the road, with a sudden surge of speed recorded as little more than a silver blur.

Although the vehicle was breaking shop windows along the strip, the driver kept the vehicle on an unerringly straight path.

It seems likely the breakages were caused by the tables and chairs trapped beneath the vehicle and sticking out either side.

For shopkeeper Daniel Riccardi of Discount King, who saw the vehicle hurtle past his open front door, his immediate thought was of a terrorist attack. 

“I was in the shop. I was serving at the counter, talking to someone when I heard some tables and chairs outside Thornton’s Bakery crashing to the ground – not that I knew that at the time. It sounded like a cattle truck,” he said.

“All of a sudden I saw this car zoom past the shopfront, on the footpath. My immediate thought was that it was a Bourke Street scenario.

“My heart started racing. I was worried about my kids being out there.

“I ran outside straight away to see if anyone had been cleaned up or anyone hurt. The shock of it was pretty bad. I’ve never seen anything like that before. It gets your heart racing.”

Leongatha teen Lexi Van Delft was leaving the Wakachi sushi shop when she saw a car approaching. Someone standing by urged her to run. 

“I just heard all this banging as I came out for sushi at Wakachi,” she said.

“I looked to my right and saw a car speeding along the footpath. I could see it passing Discount King.

“A guy in a van said ‘Run!’ and I ran into the middle of the road. I didn’t even look for oncoming traffic. I just ran. I’m sure the people on the road doing 40 would have been less impact than the guy doing 60 on the footpath.

“I continued to watch the car speed past and demolish the ANZAC monument.

“Then it hit the roundabout, airborne about a metre off the ground. He then smashed into the barrier outside Sweet Life Cafe and Cakes.”  

She too wondered if Leongatha was the target of a terrorist attack: “My instant thought was, it’s back to Bourke Street.”

Levelling the cenotaph outside the Memorial Hall and crashing through the roundabout, the vehicle continued its calamitous trajectory, finally crashing into a barrier outside Sweet Life Cafe and Cakes on Bair Street.

Shocked shopkeepers and onlookers were quickly on the scene, dialling 000.

Police, ambulance and a Burchell Panels tow truck were quick to respond.

Police were fast to hose down any suggestions the incident was more than an accident.

Public fear of a terrorist attack was immediate, with concerned locals contacting The Star via social media and phone.  

Speaking in the wake of the drama, Leongatha Police Sergeant Dale McCahon said he was thankful the car did not collide with pedestrians or other cars.

“The driver’s out of hospital. He was checked here at Leongatha. He’s fine,” he said.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=29162

Posted by on Jun 18 2019. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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