Tragic crash in Australia claims lives of five Indians
Melbourne, November 8: A devastating incident unfolded in the Australian state of Victoria when an elderly man drove his SUV into the beer garden of the Royal Daylesford hotel, leading to the loss of five lives, including two children aged nine and 11. The victims were identified as Vivek Bhatia (38) and his son Vihan (11), Pratibha Sharma (44) and her daughter Anvi (nine), and her partner Jatin Chugh (30). They were struck by the vehicle after it mounted a kerb and ploughed into the pub's front lawn on a Sunday evening.
Five other individuals, including Bhatia's wife Ruchi (36), his younger son Abeer (six), and an 11-month-old child, are currently hospitalised and receiving treatment for their injuries. During a press conference on Monday, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton expressed his condolences and described the incident as "an absolute tragedy." The victims were all visitors to the area.
The driver of the white BMW, a 66-year-old man from Mount Macedon, was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and tested negative for alcohol.
While it is too early to determine if speed played a role in the fatal crash, investigations are ongoing.
Gurjit Singh, secretary of the Australian Sikh Support group, confirmed the tragic loss of Pratibha Sharma and her partner, who were from Point Cook. Her daughter, who was taken to the hospital following the accident, later succumbed to her injuries.
Pratibha Sharma had been actively volunteering with the support group since 2020, helping deliver food and groceries to people in quarantine. She also ran for the Victorian parliament and local council and was involved in multiple community charities, according to friends.
Vivek Bhatia's parents are traveling from India to Victoria to support Ruchi and her son as they recover in the Royal Melbourne Hospital's intensive care unit, where they are being treated for broken legs and internal injuries. In response to the tragedy, hundreds of Daylesford community members attended a vigil to remember those who lost their lives.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his condolences on social media, stating, "We are all shocked by what happened in Daylesford, and so deeply saddened — for those whose lives were so cruelly cut short, and for those who can never be the same again. The hearts of all Australians go out to everyone affected, including loved ones, friends, first responders, and the Daylesford community.”
This unfortunate incident adds to the toll of 204 reported deaths on Victorian roads this year.
- With inputs from agencies