A major police search is underway for the driver of a hit and run who killed one road worker and left another with life-threatening injuries before fleeing on foot.
Detectives said a red Holden travelling well above the speed limit struck the workers at a worksite near the intersection of Hall Road and Lats Avenue at Carrum Downs around 7:15am.
The driver of the vehicle initially fled on foot before being picked up by a black Hyundai SUV, which then travelled east on Ballarto Road. The man has been described as Caucasion in appearance and aged in his 30s.
Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Jarrod Dwyer condemned the driver’s conduct, calling it “a callous, cold act — the act of a coward”.
“The driver has got out, looked directly at the victims and then run off,” he said.
It is believed the man may have minor facial injuries from the crash.
After the crash, at least one passerby stopped to help, and after the driver started to run away a member of the public began chasing him.
That person took photos of the driver as they pursued him and shouted for him to stop, and after that the driver got into the second car.
When police saw the black SUV nearby a short time later, the vehicle drove at police officers.
One of the workers, a 44-year-old man from Bayswater, died at the scene while their colleague, a 38-year-old Traralgon man, was flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a stable condition with life-threatening injuries.
The victims were working for the traffic management company Altus Traffic.
Acting Senior Sergeant Dwyer said authorities were “pulling out all stops” to find the driver from the crash and the driver of the car that picked him up.
“We will find these people,” he said.
“Hand yourselves in. It’s very, very simple, you will be found, we’ve got your photograph.
“Anybody who is attempting to harbour these people will face criminal investigations, criminal charges.”
Altus Traffic chief executive officer Ben Marsonet described the events of this morning as an “absolute tragedy”.
“He got up this morning and went to work just like any other day and for him not to be going home to his family today is just one of the most shattering experiences I’ve had in my working life,” he said.
He described the man who was killed as a “hardworking family man” who had been with the company for more than a decade.
“He’s a leader in this business and to lose him in this matter is just absolutely shattering,” he said.
Mr Marsonet said he had spoken to the families of both the man who was killed and the man who was injured.
“We’ve lost one of our employees today through the fault of what’s, by all reports, a speeding and distracted motorist,” he said.
“Our focus at the moment is providing support to the family, the colleagues and the friends of the deceased and doing everything we possibly can just to get our arms around everybody and support them at this very difficult time.”
Mr Marsonet said the organisation was working with police and WorkSafe as they continued investigating.
He urged people going through road works across the country to slow down and respect the safety of traffic controllers.
“Please, for the love of God, slow down and keep our staff safe and keep our traffic controllers safe,” he said.
“They absolutely deserve it.”
Local Carrum Downs resident Carol Haeusler said she regularly witnessed unsafe driving in the area.
“I’ve been here eight months now. We have hoons up and down every night, driving stupid on the road … It’s pretty sad, actually,” she said.
Another local resident and witness to the crash, Martine Holden, said she was not surprised by the accident because “hoons” often sped down the road.
“It’s probably just an accident waiting to happen,” she said.
“It’s devastating to think there are so many school children that walk along Hall Road, and it could have been any one of them.”
Anyone who witnessed the crash or has dashcam footage of the incident has been asked to contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000, or triple-0 if they have seen the black Hyundai.
Source: ABC News