COLAC and district families have felt the shockwaves of one of Victoria’s worst road accidents.
Victims of a fiery collision near Penshurst, approximately 140 kilometres north-west of Colac, had family in Colac and district.
Six people died, five at the scene and another more than 24-hours later in hospital, when a gravel truck and station wagon collided.
Colac relatives of twin sisters Caroline and Olivia Wright, Sean Doran, and 46-year-old Terang truck driver Steven Elford, are struggling to come to terms with the tragedy, which also killed Rebecca McKenzie and Tim Cooper.
All the car’s occupants were from Warrnambool and Panmure and in their early 20s.
Paramedics airlifted Olivia Wright, who was the only person to survive the impact, to Royal Melbourne Hospital after Saturday’s collision, but she died on Sunday night.
The group was en route to iconic south-west horse racing event the Dunkeld Cup.
A Royal Melbourne Hospital spokesman said Caroline and Olivia Wright’s grief-stricken family was “devastated by the loss of their beautiful girls”.
“We take some comfort in the knowledge that Olivia was able to donate her organs to help others,” a family member said.
The spokesman said “the family would like to thank everyone for their support and for respecting their privacy at this very sad
and difficult time”.
Fifteen people have died in 10 crashes across Victoria this month, taking the state’s provisional road toll to 247, three less than last year’s total of 250.
Thirteen people have died on Colac Otway, Surf Coast and Corangamite Shire roads this year, up from seven last year.
Colac Highway Patrol Sergeant John Lee said Saturday’s tragedy showed how far-reaching the impact of road crashes could be.
“It’s very concerning, and I suppose that last accident just brings home how many lives and families one accident can affect,” Sgt Lee said.
The State Government and Victoria Police yesterday launched a new large-scale road safety campaign in a bid to combat the rising road toll.
“The Summer Stay campaign will target factors that contribute to the road toll such as drug and alcohol use and on motorists who are over-represented in the rural road toll,” Police and Emergency Services Minster Peter Ryan said.
“Summer Stay will run 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, during which time motorists can expect to be breath-tested, speed-checked and closely monitored by police,” Mr Ryan said.
The Summer Stay campaign will kick-off this weekend and continue until January 8.
“We’ve got a few operations going throughout summer, mainly targeting the drinking the speed, the normal things that contribute to accidents around here,” Sgt Lee said.