Drug test results of a Mercedes driver who allegedly killed five people and a dog shortly after being caught speeding by police have been revealed.
Christopher Dylan Joannides, 29, is believed to have hit a Nissan Navara ute at about 2.30pm on Thursday, sending it into the path of a B-double truck near Strathmerton, just south of the Victoria/NSW border.
Joannides was charged with five counts of dangerous driving and death after admitting to being the driver of the white Mercedes sedan during an interview with police.
According to court documents, the 29-year-old was pulled over just 2 km from the crash site after being caught speeding 118 km/h in a 100 km/h zone.
He allegedly told officers that he had smoked cannabis “a day or more ago” and gave a positive result for cannabis on a preliminary “lick stick” saliva test.
However, a second sample was tested and failed to show a positive result, with Joannides fined on the spot and allowed to continue driving.
Victoria Police spent a total of 40 minutes with the 29-year-old before stopping at 2.19pm, just three minutes before the horror attack.
A blood sample from Joannides will be tested to determine if he had drugs in his system with the second ‘lick stick’ test which will also be sent for further testing.
A horror crash between two cars and a B-double truck in northern Victoria killed five people on Thursday
The Nissan Navara 4WD ute was flung into the truck’s path after being hit by the Mercedes
Police will allege that after exiting the traffic stop, Joannides then ran through a give way sign at the Labuan Road and Murray Valley Hwy intersection.
The crash instantly killed the Nissan driver, a local woman in her 60s, her four international passengers – three women and a man believed to be between 23 and 30 years old – and a dog.
The crash was so bad that disaster identification experts and search and rescue teams had to be called in to determine casualties.
Joannides’ lawyer applied for bail at Shepparton Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon, saying he had no other previous offences, posed no unacceptable risk to the community, had stable residence and family support.
Magistrate Simon Zebrowski granted him bail under strict conditions, including a driving ban.
The Nissan Navara ute is seen after the horror crash that killed five people and a dog
Emergency services were called to an incident in Strathmerton, just south of the NSW border, at about 2.30pm on Thursday with reports of a multi-car collision (photo, map)
“Probably the worst thing you can do… is drive a motor vehicle,” the magistrate said.
“Under no circumstances may you operate a motor vehicle.”
Joannides must live at his address in Doncaster, surrender his passport, and must not leave Victoria or Australia.
Following the crash, Joannides and his 20-year-old female passenger were taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
While the circumstances of the crash are still under investigation, Assistant Road Policing Commissioner Glenn Weir said police believe the four international victims are from Asia and worked in the local agricultural industry in Australia.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Murray Valley Hwy and Labuan Rd (pictured)
Police and emergency services took photos at the scene of the accident on Thursday
At the time of the incident, the Navara driver was dropping her employees off at home after working on her property all day, Assistant Commissioner Weir said.
Police from the major collision unit worked through the night to investigate and investigate the cause of the crash.
Assistant Commissioner Weir said dash cam footage of the crash was “horrific” and that the tragedy would have “significant consequences” for the first responders, the local community and the families of the victims abroad for a long time to come.
He said the truck driver was “absolutely devastated” and was driving and doing the right thing when his life “changed in a split second.”
The quintuple fatal accident is the deadliest car crash Victoria has experienced since 2012.
Assistant Commissioner Weir said the number of multi-fatal accidents has risen significantly this year compared to 2022 on Victorian roads.
Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir said multi-fatal car crashes on Victorian roads rose significantly this year
In an emotional plea, he urged drivers to obey traffic rules to stay safe, especially as more people take to the roads in the run-up to the weekend and Anzac Day.
“Today many people will take the opportunity to travel and maybe enjoy a day off on Monday and Tuesday as a holiday. But the people who don’t want to travel are these people who are dead,” he said.
“So once all the tape is removed, all the cars are towed, and everything is cleaned up and everyone can move on, it’s pretty easy for the crash to be something that happened the other week, the other month, or last year.
‘But we can’t stop there. It’s time people wake up.
“I don’t know what else we can do to try and get people to care.”
He will return to court on September 19.