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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Yarrawonga accident victim's roundabout plea

A car trauma victim and his mother are pleading with VicRoads to build a roundabout at the intersection of Woods Road and the Murray Valley Highway to prevent future accidents.

FIONA BLICK January 21, 2014 4:58pm

“That intersection is just a tragedy waiting to happen,” Wendy Hargreaves, mother of accident victim Austin Sidebottom, said.

“Austin was lucky enough to survive his accident however he needed extensive surgery due to a soft tissue injury caused by his seat belt and will be in rehab for a long time.”

Just before Christmas Austin and a female driver were attempting to do a right hand turn into Woods Road when they unwittingly turned in front of B-double truck travelling east on the Murray Valley.

Snr Cst Shaun Tanner from Yarrawonga Police told the Chronicle at the time it appeared the driver of the sedan may have been blinded by bright sunlight.

Wendy backs up this theory.

“The accident was caused purely by the nature of the intersection; no one was at fault,” she said.

“The sun blinded the driver, as simple as that.

“A roundabout at this corner would change the pattern of driving behaviour.

“It would slow the traffic down and every driver, no matter what direction they were travelling in would be giving way.”

Wendy has sent up an email account, aboutarounderbout@gmail.com, and she is asking people to write an email voicing their concerns about this intersection which she will then forward onto authorities including VicRoads and Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy.

“I am also organising petitions for people to sign and placing them in various local businesses,” she said.

“Another idea I am considering is making up banners to place in prominent spots around town to promote a roundabout at this intersection.

“This accident was completely avoidable because no one was at fault.

“There will always be accidents but we can at least try to minimise them and the impact they have on the community.”

Wendy said she would like to thank all those people who have assisted Austin during the initial accident and throughout his recovery period.

“People have been helping in so many ways,” Wendy said.

“From helping to pay Austin’s rent while he has been unable to work to cleaning his unit; those things have taken the pressure off me so I can concentrate on looking after him.

“I thank those people from the bottom of my heart.

“The SES did a brilliant job and their quick response was amazing; the fact that they took the time to come and ask me personally if I was alright and their concern for the truck driver was outstanding.

“The truck driver himself was wonderful.

“He was incredibly experienced and managed to swerve which changed the outcome of the accident.

“I would also like to thank the young man that was first on the scene and put himself forward to assist plus the nursing staff at Woods Point that came out to help.”

Local state member Tim McCurdy spoke with the Chronicle at the time of the accident and said concerns over the safety of this intersection had been brought to his attention on numerous occasions.

“I recently attended a meeting with VicRoads, Yarrawonga College P-12 and Sacred Heart Primary School regarding this intersection,” Mr McCurdy said.

“The schools were asking for some sort of pedestrian crossing across the Murray Valley Highway to make it safer for students who needed to cross the road.”

He said VicRoads indicated the possibility was there to construct a roundabout at the Woods Road intersection.

“I am hoping to continue these discussions with VicRoads early in the new year,” he said.

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