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‘Absolute tragedy’: Five dead after beer garden crash

A vigil will be held for the five people killed after a car ploughed through a regional Victorian pub in what police described as a confronting scene that could haunt first responders forever.

Two families who knew each other were at the Royal Daylesford Hotel sitting in the roadside beer garden when a BMW SUV came down the street, mounted the kerb and hit patrons about 6pm on Sunday.

A young boy, two men in their 30s and a woman in her 40s were killed at the scene.

A teenage girl was flown to the Alfred Hospital where she died.

The Hepburn Shire Council will hold a vigil on Monday night for mourners.

Two children were also injured, including an 11-month-old boy at Ballarat Base Hospital who is in a stable condition.

Another boy, believed to be about six, is in the Royal Children’s Hospital also in a stable condition after initially being listed as critical with broken legs and internal injuries.

Three adults remain in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, including a 35-year-old woman in intensive care.

Police are waiting on DNA results to confirm the identities of the victims and the coroner has been notified.

A steady stream of devastated mourners, including families and community members, arrived throughout the day to lay flowers, teddy bears and leave messages of condolences at the site of the crash.

“(We) are broken. Rest in peace,” one message read.

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said the crash was an “absolute tragedy” and commended first responders at the scene, including officers who heard the crash from the local police station and ran over.

“But it comes at a cost as well,” he told reporters on Monday.

“They will take that scene with them for many, many years – some may never lose that scene, it may haunt them forever.”

Daylesford

Five people are dead and others injured in the crash at the Royal Daylesford Hotel. Photo: AAP

Police are waiting to speak to the 66-year-old driver, who remains in hospital for shock and non-life-threatening injuries.

Patton said the man returned a negative breath test at the scene and he is not known to police.

Crash reconstruction specialists are trying to piece together what happened.

Victoria Ambulance regional director Trevor Weston said emergency crews were confronted with a chaotic scene.

He commended the efforts of people who came to the aid of the injured until ambulance paramedics arrived.

“(Injuries were) quite traumatic for a number of those patients, particularly the four that were airlifted to hospital,” he told reporters on Monday.

Some of the initial crews were from the area, he said.

Paramedics will be offered support in coming days and weeks.

“Any incident involving children is that next level of distress for our paramedics but the crews that responded last night did so professionally and provided the best care they could for all of those patients,” Mr Weston said.

Hepburn Mayor Brian Hood said Daylesford would have been crowded on Sunday, with many people enjoying the warm evening over the unofficial Melbourne Cup long weekend.

“This will send shock waves through the community for some time,” he told ABC TV.

The council acknowledged the many witnesses who will be affected and will work with local groups to offer support.

“This is a terrible event for our close-knit community,” it said in a statement.

Police have asked the public to avoid Daylesford so emergency services can access the scene.

Politicians including Premier Jacinta Allan, Health Minister and local state MP Mary-Anne Thomas, Opposition Leader John Pesutto, and local federal MP Catherine King thanked those who went to the victims’ aid and offered their condolences to those affected.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has dash cam or CCTV footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

– AAP

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