‘It was just a fireball’: High-speed Point Cook crash claims three lives

A Point Cook resident who worked for three decades in the motor-racing business has described a fiery Christmas Eve crash that killed three people and left another woman fighting for her life as the worst he has ever seen.
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The Audi was travelling so fast that when it hit a road barrier the engine was forced from the car and the battery was found 100 metres down the road.

Flowers adorned the pole where the Aldi came to rest. Photo: Joe Hinchliffe

Steve Piesley was in his home near Palmers Road about 7.30pm on Sunday night when he heard a bang so loud that his windows reverberated.

He raced outside to find a scene that left even this veteran of the car-racing trade horrified.

“I’ve never seen a car erupt so quick, I’ve been involved in motor racing for years, and I’ve never seen a car do that,” Mr Piesley said.

“It was just a fireball.…

“The Audi was on fire and over the Armco railing and the other car’s gone through.”

Police said the Audi was travelling north at well in excess of the 70km/h speed limit veered on to the wrong side of Palmers Road, slamming into a Honda Jazz carrying two women.

The burn marks could be seen on a bicycle path at the crash scene. Photo: Joe Hinchliffe

​One of the women and the two occupants of the Audi are also dead and were so badly injured on Sunday night they could not be identified.

The second woman in the Honda Jazz has been taken to The Alfred hospital in a critical condition. She remained in a critical but stable condition on Christmas morning.

The two vehicles collided on Palmers Road nears Whistler Crescent just after 7.30pm.

The clean up of the site took all night, with the cars removed from the scene at about 6.30am.

Police were slowing traffic until 8am, when traffic returned to normal.

Dave Franklin and Steve Piesley. Photo: Joe Hinchliffe

Even then, an acrid smell of burnt rubber, plastic and metal hung in the air and evidence of the fiery crash were clear.

Flowers hung upon the pole into which the Audi crashed.

Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer, of Victoria Police Road PolicingCommanddescribed the impact of the crash as “extreme”, with the Audi incinerated.

“There are three people who will not be there for Christmas, who will not be opening presents tomorrow. This could be a quadruple fatal and we pray to God it’s not.”

“This was a tragedy that didn’t need to happen. The sort of speeds we’re talking about to cause this devastation are just crazy speeds.”

Another local, Dave Franklin, was at home in the housing estate through which Palmers Road runs on Christmas Eve when the crash occurred.

“I thought someone was banging on my door, smashing my door,” he said.

During a career spent working at an Air Force base, Mr Franklin has seen his share of crashes before.

“But nothing like that,” he said.”The smoke, mate, it was huge.”

The two returned to the scene on Christmas morning about 8am, just as police were leaving Palmers Road and traffic was returned to normal.

They said they raced to the scene within moments of the crash to witness the inferno.

“The firies were there within five minutes and were trying to put it out with extinguishers,” Mr Piesley said.

“But it burned for 15 minutes at least, and even after they put it out, it was still smouldering.

“And the smoke just kept going.”

Mr Piesley pointed to a spot on the road at least 100 metres from the crash.

“The [Audi’s] battery was there, and the engine popped out too,” he said.

“It must have been going fast.”

The Honda Jazz, he said, was on its roof with its front stoved-in.

The noise of the crash which reverberated through the housing estate was described by others as an explosion.

Kayley Whitehouse was watching TV at her Southampton Drive home, three streets back from Palmers Rd when she heard what she said was a “boom sound”.

“I’ve heard car crashes before but this was different,” she said.

“It was definitely an explosion of some sort.

“We thought maybe a barbecue, but, tragically, we were wrong.”