An elderly man trapped in a car wash was left screaming by helpless workers, police and paramedics who were unable to free him.
Lawyers representing international oil company Chevron appeared in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday after the company was charged in the death of the 73-year-old Mulgrave man.
Documents released to Daily Mail Australia on Monday evening reveal that police and paramedics responded quickly to the emergency, arriving within minutes of him becoming trapped in the car wash in Springvale – southeast of Melbourne.
The gas station in Springvale where a 73-year-old was crushed to death. It was then branded as a Puma service station. Chevron bought the company after the accident
Global oil giant Chevron has been sued by WorkSafe for four breaches of health and safety law following the death of a man at a car wash in Melbourne in November 2019 (stock image)
Documents stated that the man, whom a magistrate and lawyers acting on behalf of both sides refuse to name, was left “screaming and unable to move.”
“Alerted by another customer, gas station sales associates tried but were unable to free the man and called emergency services,” documents said.
“Minutes later, two ambulances arrived at the scene, Victoria Police members were also present.”
The court heard that paramedics were unable to free him and immediately determined that the man’s heart had stopped beating.
It took Country Fire Authority firefighters 16 minutes to get to the scene.
After being removed from the machine, paramedics were able to “resuscitate” the unconscious man and take him to hospital.
The man died days later from a lack of oxygen in the brain caused by “crash asphyxia.”
Daily Mail Australia cannot report much of what the security watchdog alleges against Chevron after Magistrate Brett Sonnet insisted large parts of the prosecution’s summary be redacted when released to the media.
A witness described Monday the shocking moment when the man rushed to his doom in the car wash.
Pietrina Di Noto was next in line to get her car washed when she saw the horrific incident happen.
She told the court that the elderly man’s fate was sealed when he tried to get into the front seat of his car after the car wash kicked in.
The car wash where the shocking accident happened
A man, 73, was crushed after getting out of his vehicle to re-enter a passcode, then the wash cycle began (stock image)
UNITED STATES MAN DIED IN CAR WASH LAST YEAR
Rene Tactay Jaime, 56, died in a US car wash last April after abandoning his car.
Escondido police said Mr. Jaime entered a car wash at the 2100 block of East Valley Parkway and exited his 2014 Scion XB for an unknown reason.
Officers later found his car in drive gear along with evidence of Mr. Jaime being dragged by the vehicle, which rolled forward after he got out.
Mr. Jaime got caught between the left side of the vehicle and the left column of the car wash.
The car wash was not active at the time of the incident.
WorkSafe Victoria has sued Chevron for four counts of negligence after the man drove into a car wash before getting out of his car to re-enter a passcode.
The court heard he was crushed trying to get back into his vehicle when the wash cycle began, with his car door getting stuck by a portal.
The man died of his injuries in hospital three days later in November 2019.
Ms Di Noto told the court she was waiting in her car behind the elderly man when she saw him jump out of his car to enter the code.
Ms Di Noto addressed the court on the first day of an expected four-day preliminary hearing and said the man had ‘roughly’ asked her to move her vehicle so he could enter the code.
“He saw the machine move and started walking,” she said.
Ms Di Noto said she saw water begin pouring out of the car wash as the man desperately tried to get back into the front seat of his vehicle.
“I was like, ‘Oh no, please get in the backseat,'” she said.
Ms Di Noto said the man managed to open the front door wide enough to get a foot in before being cut down by the car wash.
“It would have been better if he had just walked away,” she said. “It was clear to me.”
A CFA fire crew was finally able to free the stricken man (stock image)
Ms Di Noto said it would have been obvious to the man that it was folly to get back into the front seat.
“It was obviously dangerous to get up front,” she said. ‘I was shocked.’
Chevron Australia Downstream Fuels, which operates the car wash, has been charged by WorkSafe with four violations of the Health and Safety Act.
Chevron offered its condolences to the family of the dead man, but disputed that it was the operator of the car wash at the time.
“Safety is Chevron’s top priority, and although the incident occurred before Chevron began retail operations in Australia, Chevron has fully cooperated with any investigation into the incident,” a spokesperson told media just days after the tragedy.
Chevron acquired Puma Energy (Australia) Holdings in July 2020, which operated the gas station and car wash at the time.
According to court documents, Chevron failed to take reasonably practicable measures to eliminate hazards, including failure to install signage instructing drivers not to leave their vehicle while the car wash was in operation, and failure to install anti-collision bars or other systems that could deter an impending threat. can detect collision between moving parts and obstacles in the wash bay.
WorkSafe also claimed that the gantry legs were fitted with metal braces that reduced the amount of space for cars, people and other items in the washroom, and it was reasonably feasible for Chevron to eliminate or reduce the risk by removing those braces.
The fourth charge concerns malfunctions in the car wash’s control system, which allowed customers to drive into the wash room and leave the car on foot to enter an access code to start the wash cycle.
“It was reasonably feasible for Chevron to eliminate or mitigate the risk by installing boom gates that would allow access to the wash area only after entering a valid access code,” court documents allege.
The hearing continues.