Friends and community unite to mourn Dalesford victims

By Our Reporter
People pay tributes at the scene of he accident. Photo courtesy of Radio Haanji/ Facebok

The day after a tragic accident, where a BMW ploughed through the crowded beer garden of the Royal Daylesford Hotel, friends of the deceased—five from the Indian community—remember them with profound sadness and cherished memories.

Condolences have been pouring in for the families of Pratibha Sharma, 44, her husband Jatin, and their nine-year-old daughter, as well as the family of Vivek Bhatia, 38, and his young son Vihaan, 11, who tragically lost their lives. Meanwhile, Ruchi, 36, and their son Abeer, 6, are currently receiving medical care. The Sharmas hail from Point Cook, while the Bhatias are from Tarneit.

On Facebook, messages overflow with sorrow. Daljeet Bakshi of The Australian Sikh Support expressed, “Very shocking news—one of our friends and a dedicated volunteer for Australian Sikh Support, Pratibha Sharma from Melbourne, her husband Jatin, their daughter Anvi, and their friend Vivek and his son Vihaan, lost their lives in an unfortunate accident. Our prayers go out for the speedy recovery of Ruchi and Abeer. Pratibha, along with her family, has always worked tirelessly for volunteer initiatives in the community.”

Pratibha, her partner Jatin, and their bright-eyed daughter Anvi // Pic supplied

Dr Sonia Singh, a dear friend of Pratibha, wrote, “RIP, my dearest friend Pratibha Sharma. You were a gem and the glue that always kept our friends together… I don’t know if I will ever be able to bear this loss.”

Sharing a photo taken on 25 October, another friend, Kavita Chhabra, wrote, “The two hardest things to say in life are hello for the first time and goodbye for the last. I was heartbroken to hear of your sudden loss, my dear Prathiba. Be grateful every second of every day that you spend with the people you love. Life is so very precious. Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. #RIP”

Jason Wood MP stated, “Many across Australia have shared their devastation, particularly within the Indian Australian community, as both families were regular attendees at local cultural events. Both families were widely recognised for their dedication to numerous community groups and volunteer organisations.”

Vivek and Ruchi with their sons Vihaan and Abeer // Photo source: Facebook

According to The Age, investigators are scheduled to interview the SUV driver today, while the town grapples with the tragic incident. The 66-year-old Mount Macedon man now holds a crucial role in shedding light on how a weekend retreat for two families took a devastating turn.

The Age further said eyewitnesses recounted the moment the car veered off the road, failing to negotiate a bend in Albert Street, a 50km/h zone, and then mounting the curb, resulting in a collision with patrons seated at picnic tables. Promptly, members of the public rushed to assist the injured.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese conveyed his condolences for the crash victims from Beijing, where he was in a meeting with the Chinese president last night. This incident occurs against the backdrop of a concerning trend in Victoria’s road safety, with the state’s road toll reaching a 15-year high. The first half of 2023 marked the deadliest period on the state’s roads in over a decade, equalling the highest toll over the past 18 years.

As of 2023, the state has witnessed 204 lives lost on Victorian roads, reflecting a 16.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year, The Age added.

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