Melbourne, Dec 11 (IANS): Police in Australia on Monday charged an elderly driver following a car crash last month in Victoria state that left five Indian-origin people dead and several others injured.
The 66-year-old man ploughed his SUV into the beer garden of Royal Daylesford Hotel striking 10 people from three families who had gathered on November 5 to celebrate their weekend.
Victoria Police's Major Collision Investigation Unit (MCIU) charged the driver with five counts of culpable driving causing death, two counts of negligently causing serious injury and seven counts of reckless conduct endangering life.
The man, identified as William Swale from Mount Macedon by The Age newspaper, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Swale was driving along Albert Street in Daylesford on the day of the incident when he missed a right-hand bend, mounted the kerb, and struck about ten patrons sitting outside the Royal Daylesford Hotel.
Vivek Bhatia (38), his son Vihan (11) from Tarneit, and Pratibha Sharma (44), her daughter, Anvi (nine), and partner Jatin Chugh (30) from Point Cook, died in the crash.
Sharma’s nine-year-old daughter, Anvi, was taken to hospital, where she succumbed to injuries.
Five other people, including Bhatia's wife, Ruchi (36), younger son Abeer (six) and an 11-month-old child were taken to hospital for treatment of injuries.
The Victoria Police said so far the 11-month-old baby, a 43-year-old Kyneton woman, and a 38-year-old man from Cockatoo have been discharged.
Police earlier said that Swale, an 'insulin-dependent diabetic', was admitted to medical care following the collision and was interrogated by the police on November 7.
Investigators said he did not have alcohol in his system and was released after being interrogated. Martin Amad, Swale's lawyer, said his client was a family man with no criminal history, and had returned a negative blood alcohol reading after the collision.
"He is deeply distressed and feels great empathy with the families and friends of the victims and the Daylesford community,” Amad had said in a statement earlier.
While addressing a news conference after the incident, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said the victims were all visitors to the area, and described the incident as "an absolute tragedy".