A heart breaking picture has emerged of the families ripped apart in the hellish beer garden pub crash that killed five in Daylesford on Sunday.
Pratibha Sharma, her nine-year-old daughter Anvi, and her partner Jatin, 30, were killed when a white BMW X5 crashed into the busy venue and hit customers sitting outside just after 6pm.
Ms 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.
Australia’s Indian community is in mourning following her death with multiple people taking to social media to express their grief at her passing.
“Very shocking news, one of 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,” Daljeet Bakshi wrote.
“Pratibha always along with her family members have worked tirelessly for volunteer initiatives for the community.”
Meera Sharma said it was a “big loss for our community”.
“It’s unbelievable news that Pratibha Sharma, her husband and daughter Anvi left us. RIP.”
Family friend Preet Singh told the Herald Sun Ms Sharma’s death was a tragedy.
“It is incredibly shocking,” Mr Singh said.
“I’m short of words. I can’t really believe this.”
Mr Singh was travelling to Ms Sharma’s Point Cook home on Monday night to be with her parents, the Herald Sun reports.
He said Ms Sharma, 44, would be remembered as a lovely woman.
“She was so happy, everything was going right for her,” he said.
“She loved her family, her career was going well. She had such a promising future.”
In June, Ms Sharma was admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Posting to social media to celebrate the achievement, she paid special tribute to her daughter.
“I am proud and humble to announce that with the blessings of my family and friends today I admitted as a Lawyer in Supreme Court Of Victoria. I will like to thank you everyone for this achievement … specially my daughter ANVI who is always been the biggest motivation for me. Stay positive that’s me…Proud Mommy Proud daughter,” she said.
Ms Sharma expressed great love for her daughter on social media.
In February to celebrate her daughter’s birthday, she wrote online: “Can’t express my love and feelings in words. You make me complete.”
THE POLICE PICTURE
Police confirmed on Monday afternoon the relationships of the parents and children lost in the tragedy that claimed five lives.
In one group, a 38-year-old man and his 11-year-old son were both killed. The man’s wife, a 36-year-old woman, and a second son, aged six, were also injured.
The woman was flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the injured boy was flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital.
The family are from Tarneit in Melbourne’s outer west.
In another group, Mr Jatin, Ms Sharma and Anvi were killed.
The Sharma family was from Point Cook, close to Tarneit.
Several others suffered injuries when the a white BMW X5 crashed into the busy venue and hit customers sitting outside just after 6pm.
A 43-year-old Kyneton woman and a 38-year-old Cockatoo man were injured, the police said.
“It’s believed they are known to each other however police are still establishing how they are linked,” a police spokesman said on Monday afternoon.
Both were flown to Royal Melbourne Hospital.
An 11-month-old baby boy with the pair was also injured.
He was taken by road to Ballarat Base Hospital and has since been transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital.
The baby’s mother, a 34-year-old woman from Cockatoo, was not injured.
The driver, a 66-year-old Mount Macedon man, will likely remain in hospital overnight and the police expect to interview him on Tuesday.
The police added there were still details to be finalised from the chaos.
AN ‘ABSOLUTE TRAGEDY’
The carnage unfolded on Sunday night when the BMW X5 mounted the kerb and crashed into the Royal Daylesford Hotel beer garden just after 6pm.
The Mt Macedon is receiving treatment for shock and minor wounds.
He was breath tested at the scene and found to have no alcohol in his system.
FAMILIES SHATTERED IN THE CRASH
The crash was described as an “absolute tragedy” by Chief Commissioner Shane Patton.
“There were in essence two groups, two different family groups that were known to each other who were significantly involved and impacted by this,” he told reporters on Monday.
Hundreds of patrons had flocked to the pub to celebrate the unofficial long weekend with the Melbourne Cup public holiday coming up on Tuesday.
Multiple businesses in the Albert St area told NCA NewsWire they didn’t believe any locals from the “tight-knit community” were among the dead.
One business owner, who did not wish to be named, said she had heard a worker from the hotel had been injured.
The car ploughed through an area that had been set up with “lots” of tables and chairs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with customers from the Royal Hotel and other businesses using it.
Mr Patton said he had been told by the area’s head of road policing that the scene was the “worst and most confronting that he had ever been to”.
“The way those police officers conducted themselves was absolutely amazing, totally professional, but it comes as a cost as well,” he said.
“They will take that scene with them for many, many years … some may never lose that scene. It may haunt them forever.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said “the hearts of all Australians go out to everyone affected”.
“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,” he said.
CHIEF COP SLAMS CRASH RUMOURS
Mr Patton rejected reports that officers were delayed in reaching the scene or members of the public were left banging on the door of the police station trying to get help.
“That’s totally incorrect,” he told reporters on Monday.
“The station was staffed, two police officers heard the collision and as I understand ran to the scene. It’s a matter of a couple of 100m or so, and they were some of the first officers on the scene.
“And they did exactly what they’re trained to do and we’re very proud.”
HOW THE CRASH UNFOLDED
The white BMW was travelling southwest down the town’s busy Albert St when it mounted a gutter and drove through the beer garden, according to Superintendent John Fitzpatrick.
“It’s a very complex scene,” he said.
Police are exploring “every avenue” into why the crash took place, including that there was a medical episode involved.
“I will say the driver is not a person who’s known to us through national security interests, he is not a person who has prior convictions other than some traffic offending as in speeding tickets,” Mr Patton said.
Police are not yet sure if speeding was a factor in the crash, with Mr Patton saying it was an “open area of exploration”.
“The vehicle was travelling at some speed, whether that’s excessive or not needs to be determined through our reconstruction which is currently taking place.”
Locals who witnessed the horrific Daylesford crash last night reported they were left to care for the victims until police arrived at the scene.
A local reported the crash scene was “very confronting as the police didn’t arrive for 15 minutes so the public were helping the victims”.
“Helicopters were flying until late in the evening taking victims to various hospitals. People’s lives are changed forever … can’t believe the carnage in Daylesford last night,” she said.
Nearby residents from the small town shared their experiences in the aftermath of the accident, and posted that they “didn’t directly see it happen, but I heard it. (A) loud crash, and lots of screaming, it’s horrible to hear,” they said.
A woman from a business next to the Royal Daylesford told NCA NewsWire that she and her staff saw some of the bodies on the pavement.
“We’re all pretty shocked,” she said.
“It’s pretty bad, I’ve never seen anything so traumatic in my life.”
She said she had closed her business and would keep it closed on Monday.
Another woman who watched the nightmare unfold described it as “horrifying”.
“There were bodies everywhere, it was horrifying,” she said.
“I watched the whole crash. The car went up into the sky. I thought it was just dust. It’s only now I know it was bodies.”
MORE PATIENTS IN HOSPITAL
An 11-month-old baby was taken to Ballarat Base Hospital in a stable condition.
Three adults were flown to Royal Melbourne Hospital on Sunday night, with a 35-year-old woman now in ICU in a serious condition, a 43-year-old woman now stable and a 38-year-old man also stable.
COMMUNITY RESPONDS TO TRAGEDY
Mr Patton commended members of the community who responded immediately to the tragedy.
“There were numerous people there, community members, visitors, many people in the proximity who selflessly came out and aided those who were dying, aided those who needed first aid, just disregarded their own safety,” he said.
Tyre marks were still visible in the grass outside the hotel where the car left the road.
Pieces of shrapnel, appearing to have come from the white BMW, were littered around the statue adjacent to the scene where locals placed floral tributes throughout the morning.
Jenna Acquarola and James Deriu attended the scene to lay flowers on Monday morning.
“Just knowing that that happened … it’s so sad for Daylesford,” Ms Acquarola said.
“We were here five minutes after it … and we saw it and it was just horrible.”
Mr Deriu said bystanders who were first on the scene were visibly “traumatised”.
“They were beside themselves,” he said.
Ms Acquarola said in the moments following the incident the area was flooded with police officers and bystanders rushing to help, while multiple white sheets had been laid over bodies on the road.
“It was a beautiful night, it was warm, the sun was going down,” she said of the busy area.
“And it was instantly just destroyed.”
Several businesses adjacent to the scene made the decision to remain closed on Monday despite the increased presence of visitors in the popular tourist town over the Melbourne Cup weekend.
Jesse Leith, who owns a cafe and bar nearby on Vincent St, described the scene as horrific. He heard commotion in the street immediately after the crash.
“There was yelling and an eruption of noise in the street,” he said.
Mr Leith closed his business early following the crash and said many others had done the same. He said the mood was sombre among the business owners and workers still on the street.
“We’ve been saying how no one remembers anything like this happening in Daylesford,” he said. “It’s a shock for a small town like this.”
One shaken shop owner, who drove past the scene just five minutes after the BMW had crashed through the outdoor seating, said she was hoping to close early.
The tragedy comes just three weeks after the death of a local man rocked the small town.
On October 17 the man is believed to have tried to rob a muffin cafe just 100m from the site of Sunday’s crash.
He suffered serious injuries and is believed to have died on the side of Bridport St where his body was discovered by an early morning walker.