RELATED: ‘Mistake’: mayor flees crash scene
The Loddon Shire community is demanding answers and action after outgoing mayor Gavan Holt admitted he was the driver in a recent hit-and-run crash.
Last week Cr Holt conceded to the Bendigo Advertiser he fled the scene of the incident about 10pm on October 27.
Farmer Ken Pattison, of Fernihurst, said the community outrage was palpable.
“The community is just livid. We’re absolutely horrified,” Mr Pattison said.
“There is widespread concern. We want to see action and to see it properly investigated.”
Mr Pattison was at the Four Posts Hotel in Jarklin, near Serpentine, on the night of the incident where he witnessed Cr Holt drinking with mayor-elect Neil Beattie.
Cr Beattie said Cr Holt had already apologised and believed he had handled the situation “pretty well”.
“Enough has been said about this incident … I’m not going to comment any more,” Cr Beattie said.
The Bendigo Advertiser understands the incident took place on a bridge at Powlett Plains.
The other driver is then understood to have got out and examined his car before driving to a nearby farm for assistance.
It is then understood members of the public travelled up the Wedderburn-Serpentine Rd and discovered the mayor in the council car, about 10 kilometres from the crash scene.
The victim of the hit-and-run has made a statement to police, but he informed the Advertiser that he would prefer not to comment at this time.
A source close to the victim, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the victim was “extremely shaken by it all”.
"After hearing of the accident my main concern was [the] poor [victim] was left at the scene of the accident. Gavan had no idea what sort of condition he was in,” they said.
“He could have been dead, he could have been bleeding to death, he had no mobile phone. Gavan didn't know if his car was workable or not."
They said Cr Holt should have stepped down from his position until the issue was resolved.
"If I was Gavan, I would have made that decision myself,” they said.
"[Councillors] are held with pretty high esteem and to leave the scene of an accident, when they have no idea of the state of the victim, is horrendous."
Police have confirmed a 65-year-old male has been interviewed in relation to the matter.
Loddon Shire Council CEO John McLinden said he was “certainly not expecting council to take any further action” and there had not been a council meeting since the news came to light.
“I am aware there is plenty of discussion in the community in relation to the matter, but that doesn't translate into any action from the council,” Mr McLinden said.
“As far as they're concerned it's now closed.”
Cr Holt, who last week told the Advertiser alcohol was not a factor in the crash, refused to comment further.
Police have confirmed it is a criminal offence to leave the scene of an accident which can lead to charges of failing to stop after an accident, failing to render assistance, failing to exchange names and addresses and failing to report an accident to a police station.
The local government act also states that a councillor must “act lawfully and in accordance with the trust placed in him or her as an elected representative”.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said the victim had a heart condition. The Bendigo Advertiser has been informed this is not the case and has amended the article.
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