Man crushed to death in car wash as eyewitnesses describe his tragic last moments: ‘He saw the machine move and started walking’
- The 73-year-old Mulgrave man was crushed in a car wash in Melbourne in November 2019
- He got out of his vehicle to re-enter an access code, the wash program then began
- Chevron Australia Downstream Fuels Pty Ltd operates the car wash at Springvale
- Sued by WorkSafe for four violations of the Working Conditions Act
A witness has described the shocking moment when an elderly man raced to his doom in a tragic accident at an automatic car wash that left him dead, a court has heard.
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.
Pietrina Di Noto was next in line to get her car washed when she saw the horrific incident happen.
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)
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.
WorkSafe Victoria has sued Chevron four times for negligence after the man entered an automatic car wash in Springvale, Melbourne, before getting out of his car to re-enter an access code.
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.”
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.’
A man, 73, was crushed after getting out of his vehicle to re-enter a passcode, then the wash cycle began (stock image)
Chevron Australia Downstream Fuels, which operates the car wash, has been charged by WorkSafe with four violations of the Health and Safety Act.
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 warn of an imminent collision. between moving parts and obstacles in the wash area.
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 involves 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 only allow access to the wash area upon entering a valid access code,” court documents allege.
The hearing continues.