A witness has described the shocking moment an elderly man rushed to his doom in a tragic automatic car wash accident that claimed his life, a court has heard.

Lawyers representing international oil company Chevron appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday after the company was charged over the 73-year old Mulgrave man’s death.

Pietrina Di Noto had been next in line to have her vehicle washed when she watched the horrific incident unfold.

She told the court the elderly man’s fate was sealed when he attempted to make it into the front seat of his car after the car wash fired into action.

WorkSafe Victoria hit Chevron with four negligence charges after the man drove into 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 when he tried to get back into his vehicle when the wash cycle started, with his car door becoming stuck by a gantry.

The man died from 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.

Addressing the court on day one of an expected four day preliminary hearing, Ms Di Noto said the man ‘roughly’ asked her to move her vehicle so he could enter the code.

‘He saw the machine move and started to run,’ she said.

Ms Di Noto said she saw water starting to flow from the car wash as the man desperately tried to re-enter the front seat of his vehicle.

‘I thought “Oh no, please get into the back seat”,’ she said.

Ms Di Noto said the man managed to open the front door wide enough to get a foot inside before he was cut down by the car wash.

‘It would have been better if he’d just walked out,’ she said. ‘It was clear to me.’

Ms Di Noto said it would have been obvious to the man that attempting to re-enter the front seat was folly.

‘It was obviously dangerous to get in the front,’ she said. ‘I was shocked.’

Chevron Australia Downstream Fuels, which operates the car wash, was charged by WorkSafe with four breaches to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Court documents allege Chevron failed to take reasonably practicable steps to eliminate risks including not installing signage instructing drivers not to exit their vehicle while the car wash was operating, and not fitting anti-collision bars or other systems capable of detecting an impending impact between moving parts and obstacles in the wash bay.

WorkSafe also alleged gantry legs were fitted with metal brackets which reduced the amount of space for cars, people and other items in the wash bay, and it was reasonably practicable for Chevron to eliminate or reduce the risk by removing those brackets.

The fourth charge alleges failures over the operating system of the car wash, which allowed customers to drive into the wash bay and leave the car on foot to enter an access code to start the wash cycle.

‘It was reasonably practicable for Chevron to eliminate or reduce the risk by installing boom gates which would grant access to the wash bay only after a valid access code was entered,’ court documents allege.

The hearing continues.

Extracted in full from: Tragic final moments of an elderly man crushed to death in Chevron car wash revealed | Daily Mail Online

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