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Article from Herald Sun, Monday May 29 2006

A 49 year old mother of two died instantly and her sister and daughter were injured when a runaway ute struck party-goers walking home from a 21st birthay at Korumburra early yesterday.

Police and witnesses said the scene was chaotic as devestated friends and relatives battled to give first aid. Distress party guests tried desperately to help and comfort the injured.


Witnesses said it took up to 20 minutes for an ambulance to get to the horrific South Gippsland crash.

The dead woman's sister, 42, was last night fighting for her life in the Alfred Hospital. Her neice, 24 was in a stable condition in Royal Melbourne Hospital with leg fractures.

The tragedy happened during birthday party celebrations for Adam Butler, of Warragul, a cousin of the dead woman.

About 150 people were at the party at the Korumburra-Bena Football club, where Mr Butler is a player. About 50 were at the Richards St social rooms when the celebrations ended about 1.30am yesterday. Several Partygoers were walking along Richards St, either heading home or to continue celebrating at Mr Butler's nearby house, when an apparently out of control ute drove out of a car park.

Witnesses said the ute crossed to the wrong side of the road before hitting the three women and the man. The ute stopped on an embankment and its driver climbed out. Some shocked onlookers ran to help the injured, others shouted at the ute's driver. The driver is believed to have later contacte dthe police.

Dallas Surace, 21, one of Mr Butler's friends, held the hand of an injured woman to comfort her as she lay on the road. "I heard the noise first when it hit, then I realised there were people on the ground hurt" Ms Surace said. "We were trying to keep her awake. She was asking for her mum and saying she was cold. It seemed like forever until the ambulance came, people were ringing and saying 'where the hell are you?'" Two of Mr Butler's friends performed CPR on the women while waiting for the ambulance.

Sgt Paul Cripps, of the major collisions unit, said the accident had marred what should have been one of the most memorable milestones in a person's life and had destoyed the lives of those affected by it. "It's been compared to the crash at Mildura....It's the same sort of thing, a car's left the road and collided with a group of people. For the first emergency services people that arrived, it was mayhem. There were people needing assistance, it was dark at the time. It will affect a lot of people. The ramifications of something like this is that it not only affects the town, but the wider community."

In February six teenagers in Mildura died in a hit-run crash.

A 29 year old man from Leongatha was interviewed by police yesterday in relation to the Korumburra accident.