Police are still determining whether to charge the driver involved in a tragic incident outside a Victorian pub in Daylesford, which resulted in five Indian Australian fatalities.
Detective Sergeant Peter Romanis told the Coroners Court of Victoria that the investigation into the November 5 crash is still in its early stages and ongoing.
The driver, a 66-year-old man, was operating a white BMW SUV when it struck patrons outside the Royal Daylesford Hotel.
This incident, which took place around 6:05 PM, led to the tragic loss of Jatin Chugh, 30, his partner Pratibha Sharma, 44, and her daughter Anvi, aged nine. Also among the deceased were Vivek Bhatia, 38, and his son Vihaan, 11. Bhatia’s younger son and wife, Ruchi, were hospitalised due to injuries sustained in the crash.
The driver, treated at the hospital and interviewed by police, has been released pending further inquiries.
Sergeant Romanis indicated that the police are currently examining how the driver’s diabetes may have contributed to the incident. The Major Collision Investigations Unit is gathering evidence about the layout of the outdoor seating area and any related public safety concerns.
Coroner Katherine Lorenz, addressing the court, acknowledged the profound loss suffered by the families and the community.
Counsel assisting the court, Andrew Imrie, emphasized that the coronial and criminal investigations are separate, suggesting that the coronial inquiry should commence after the conclusion of any criminal proceedings.
Meanwhile, the police continue to investigate the incident’s circumstances, and the court has indicated that the case might take a long time to finalize.
The driver’s lawyer, Martin Amad, stated after the crash that his client, an insulin-dependent individual, is deeply distressed and empathizes with the victims’ families and the Daylesford community. Amad described his client as a family man with no previous criminal history.
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