A potentially devastating fire was narrowly avoided after a head-on crash at the entrance to a Benalla petrol station left a quantity of fuel on the road last Thursday.
A Maroon Toyota Camry sustained major damage after colliding with a Mitsubishi ute outside Brad and Mel’s Food and Fuel on the Midland Hwy.
The driver of the Toyota had to be cut free by attending SES officers and was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
The driver of the ute, who was attended to by paramedics at the scene, was also airlifted to the Alfred.
Police were asking bystanders to stay at least 50 metres from the incident because of the potential for fire, however, traffic was passing close by.
Senior Constable Mick Desailly was in charge of the scene and said it appeared the ute had attempted to turn right into the petrol station hitting the Toyota, which was heading in the opposite direction, head on.
‘‘We arrived within five minutes of receiving the call,’’ Snr Const Desailly said.
‘‘There was a car in the ditch and bystanders were attending to the female driver.
‘‘The man was still in the ute, which was facing Benalla and people were attending to him, too.
‘‘Both drivers had a few injuries, but both are now in a stable condition.
‘‘There was some fluid on the road, possibly petrol, but we had the CFA on hand to deal with that.’’
Mel Biddle, co-owner of Brad and Mel’s, said she suddenly heard a big bang and ran outside to see what had happened.
‘‘The Toyota was travelling towards Benalla and the ute was sitting waiting to turn right.
‘‘He didn’t see her and just turned straight into her path,’’ Ms Biddle said.
‘‘We dialled triple zero, then went to help.
‘‘There was fuel spilt all over the road, and both drivers were conscious.
‘‘My daughter went to help the lady in the car and I went to help the man in the ute.
‘‘He’s an older gentleman, a regular customer of ours.’’
Ms Biddle said it did not take long for emergency services to arrive, but every minute felt like an hour.
‘‘It was stressful, but they (emergency services) did an amazing job,’’ she said.
‘‘The lady was in pain and just wanted to get out, but she was trapped and she couldn’t.
‘‘It should be 60km/h here, we have a lot of people coming in and out.
‘‘We also have the school bus stop out front, so it really shouldn’t be an 80km/h limit.’’
Ms Biddle’s daughter Mackayla Westbury was also at the scene and feels the same way.
‘‘A lot of people come flying in and they don’t even bother to look.
‘‘It is dangerous at times because they are going so quick.’’
Speed limits in Benalla, particularly around school bus routes, have been on the agenda for the Rural City Council this year.
This accident may lead to public pressure to have the limit on the Midland Hwy close to town reviewed.