Crash course

By Casey Neill

Peter Smith is no stranger to car crashes.

The Upper Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade Captain has attended plenty over his years with the CFA.

But he never expected one in his own front yard.

Mr Smith heard one loud bang and then a second about 7.30pm on Sunday 19 May.

He stepped out his front door to investigate and saw the car that had been parked opposite his Albert Street home shunted about nine metres up the road and onto the nature strip.

He wondered where the car that had done the damage was, and turned to return inside for his torch and captain’s portable radio.

There he spotted the car, wedged between his house and front fence.

“It had missed the gas main by 15 millimetres,” he said.

“I’ve opened the passenger door and I’ve said ’are you alright mate?’.

Mr Smith said the response was less than complimentary, so he responded by jamming a wheelie bin between the fence and the driver’s door and waited for police.

Officers attended and called in a critical incident response team (CIRT).

Mr Smith said it took three hours to clear the scene and transport the driver to a hospital.

“Our street is the main access point to the Angliss Hospital emergency,” he said.

“Our house had to be totally evacuated.”

Not referring to this specific incident, Mr Smith urged Dandenong Ranges residents to be alert to what was going on in their neighbourhood.

He said local CFA crews were generally first on-scene to car crashes and too often encountered drug-affected drivers.

“People have got to be aware that this is in every street,” he said.

“I feel for my guys.”

In one incident, Mr Smith said a father ran his drug-affected son off the road to stop him from travelling any further.

He said the son had a machete in the car with him.

“It got called in as a car accident,” he said.

“It’s a scourge that’s happening.”

A Victoria Police spokesperson said that making sure people were safe and felt safe was top priority.

“Police are committed to reducing the harm caused by drugs in the community,” they said.

“That is why we relentlessly investigate and pursue the traffickers and dealers who are profiting from this trade.

“If members of the public do witness any criminal or anti-social behaviour, or are concerned for their safety, we urge them to contact triple-zero for an immediate police attendance.”

With any information about someone who is manufacturing or dealing drugs, the spokesperson urged people to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit an anonymous report at www.crimestoppers.com.au.

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