Town reels after girl hit

By Sarah Schwager
A WARNEET girl is in a critical condition in hospital after being hit by a car on Monday night.
The 14-year-old was walking along notorious Warneet Road about 5.45pm when she was struck by a car 20 metres south of Aruma Street.
The incident has raised debate among the community about extra footpaths, speeding motorists and poor lighting in the area.
Concerns about the road were sparked when a six-year-old girl, Logan Harris, was killed after being hit by a car on Warneet Road in Blind Bight a year ago.
Sergeant Pat McGavigan from Casey TMU said in Monday’s incident the girl and two friends were walking along the side of the road when they heard a car and moved onto the grass.
However, the girl stayed on the side of the road and was hit by a white 1995 Ford ute driven by a 57-year-old Langwarrin man.
Police and ambulance attended and the girl was airlifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital by helicopter with serious head injuries. The hospital confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that the girl was in a critical condition.
Warneet Neighbourhood Watch representative Naree Ide said there had been an ongoing saga about Warneet Road and how dark it was.
“At the end of the day, safety should come first. Yet the town’s divided on that issue. It’s very hard. Warneet is such a place of beauty, of rural beauty,” Mrs Ide said.
“Do we want to ruin that by sealing roads and installing footpaths?”
After Logan’s death, Blind Bight residents lobbied hard to improve safety around the coastal town’s streets.
While some improvements have started, residents still want reduced speed limits on Warneet Road, more lighting and footpaths installed.
Warneet Association member Warneet Reserve secretary Harry Balmer said there was a walking track along the foreshore but some people, especially women, were reluctant to use it after dark.
“It is off the road and out of sight. The thing is, if people are walking on the road, they really should be walking facing the traffic. I don’t know the circumstances but I myself have had close encounters with people wearing dark clothing and with their back to me.”
He agreed that the lighting was inadequate along Warneet Road and improvements were definitely needed in Blind Bight.
“Council needs to do something in the Blind Bight section of Warneet Road, like put in footpaths.”
He also said that while Warneet roads were marked 50 kilometres per hour, drivers rarely obeyed the speed limits.
Mayor Colin Butler said council had looked at the area a while ago. While some additional footpaths were identified as necessary in Blind Bight, council decided to leave Warneet as it was because of the paths around the foreshore and reserve.
“That area would be very difficult to put a path in as there are houses along there,” Cr Butler said.
“In the report we looked at lighting and it was considered adequate for traffic. We were not looking at pedestrians because they shouldn’t be walking there.
“Although it was a tragic accident, people should try to be off the roads as soon as it gets dark.
“In saying that, cars also have to be much more careful.”
Anyone with information on Monday’s incident is urged to contact Senior Constable Shane Robinson from Casey TMU on 9705 3176.