Driver in fatal crash ‘unfit’ for questioning

Driver in fatal crash ‘unfit’ for questioning

Police believe a driver ploughed into three pedestrians and then sped up before he smashed into two cars, killing a 76-year-old man and hospitalising five people.

Officers were called to Melbourne’s bustling Bourke Street about 6pm on Friday after a white Toyota sedan hit three pedestrians before T-boning two a Hyundai and a Mazda.

Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Shane Patton, said the man was possibly travelling at 60 to 70 km/hr before the deadly collision.

“He accelerated after striking pedestrians before he hit cars,” he said.

The driver of the Hyundai, a 76-year-old man from Brunswick, died at the scene.

Commissioner Patton said police were still investigating whether the horrific crash was a deliberate act.

He said there were no warning signs or reports of erratic driving before the driver crashed his mother’s car into three pedestrians and two cars.

He noted the counter terrorism unit had assessed all of the intelligence related to the crash and concluded it was not a terror act.

“We’ve ruled out terrorism of being any factor in this,” commissioner Patton said.

The 26-year-old man from Melton West was standing on top of his car and ranting before he was arrested by three officers at the crash site, according to police.

He has been deemed “unfit” to be questioned by police after a mental health interview and remains under police guard.

Although the man has no previous convictions, police said he was known to them through “previous mental health interactions”.

He has not been charged over the deadly crash in Melbourne’s busy CBD.

Three pedestrians and two people inside the Mazda were injured when the 26-year-old crashed into them at speed.

All five were assessed by paramedics at the scene, according to a spokeswoman for Ambulance Victoria.

One was taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital in a serious condition, and four others were hospitalised in a stable condition.

On Saturday morning, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews paid tribute to the elderly man killed in the crash.

“On behalf of all Victorians, we send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the 76-year-old man who died,” he said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

The crash comes five years after a car was deliberately driven into a group of pedestrians on the same street in a harrowing attack that killed six people.

“Obviously this will bring up memories and trauma for all this involved in 2017 in Bourke Street and our hearts go out to them,” commissioner Patton said.

Premier Andrews stressed that $50m has been invested into protecting Melbourne’s CBD after the deadly vehicular attack in 2017.

He told reporters on Saturday that he doesn’t believe anything else could have been done to stop this terrible incident.

Shocking footage of the aftermath shows one person laying at a tram stop and another on tram tracks as others rush to help them.

In the background, a person can be heard crying.

Blood spatters can be seen on the tram tracks in a separate clip, nearby a woman comforting an injured person.

Video shows police arresting the man, believed to be the driver of the Mazda, who was sitting on top of the destroyed car in a white shirt and white pants.

In the clip, the man is pulled from the car by two officers who were on foot patrol in the area at the time, and held before he drops to the ground and is picked back up again.

Officers were then seen escorting him away from the scene.

In the clip, the man is buckled over and appears to stumble as two officers lead him across the road.

Witnesses told The Herald Sun that as the man was led away, several members of the public spat on him.

“People were angry on him, spitting on him,” she said.

Police have closed Burke Street from Swanston Street through to Exhibition Street.

Yarra Trams has suspended services along Bourke Street and Swanston Street, with diversions continuing as of Saturday morning.

Police have stressed there is no threat to the public.

They are asking anyone with dashcam footage or relevant information to come forward.

Superintendent Dunstan said on Friday there is “nothing to suggest any terror links” and no ongoing threat to the public.

“The good thing was we had a quick arrest,” she said.

“At this stage there are no terrorist links and it is a person with mental health issues”

Superintendent Dunstan said the area would remain closed as the investigation continued, and asked to police.

Originally published as Elderly man dead, others injured after car crashes into pedestrians at Bourke Street, Melbourne