Police investigate cliff fatality

A man died instantly and a woman suffered serious injuries when their car plunged over a cliff on the Great Ocean Road.

COLAC detectives are investigating the cause of a fatal Great Ocean Road crash where a car plunged 95 metres down a cliff near Apollo Bay.

A 31-year-old man, from Kealba in north-western Melbourne, died instantly when the Volkswagon he was driving crashed through guard rails and plummeted off a cliff at Cape Patton, between Apollo Bay and Kennett River.

A 48-year-old female passenger from Olinda, east of Melbourne, miraculously survived Saturday afternoon’s crash but was trapped in the vehicle for more than two hours and suffered serious leg, pelvis and stomach injuries.

She was in a serious but stable condition in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

Acting Sergeant John Lee of Colac police said the pair were travelling towards Kennett River on the Great Ocean Road when the crash happened.

Country Fire Authority rescuers were first on the scene of the accident.

Sgt Lee said the man’s body was “thrown from the vehicle upon impact” and was near the car when rescuers arrived.

He said Colac Criminal Investigation Unit Detective Chris Potter was investigating the crash.

“There’s no clear reason why it would have happened,” Sgt Lee said.

“The cause of the accident is unknown so we just want to investigate that – there was no other vehicle involved, no marks prior to indicate trying to slow down or anything like that,” he said.

“At this stage we’ve got an open mind – we’re just investigating to rule out whether its anything more than just an accident.”

Apollo Bay and Geelong CFA rescue teams winched members and equipment up and down the cliff to free the woman from the mangled wreckage.

An air ambulance was unable to land at the scene but dropped paramedics before waiting and then retrieving the woman, who was conscious throughout the ordeal, after rescuers freed her.

Paramedics stabilised the woman at Kennett River before flying her to the Alfred Hospital.

Apollo Bay fire brigade captain David Howell said his crews were the first to discover a woman had survived the crash.

“We couldn’t see anyone at first but after a while looking with binoculars you could see an arm waving out of the wreckage so we had to get down there pretty quick,” he said.

Mr Howell said his team worked well in challenging circumstances where crews had to winch rescuers and heavy equipment from the Great Ocean Road to the bottom of the cliff.

He said his crew of eight also had to retrieve the man’s body in the dark about 9.30pm as the ocean’s tide came in.

“It was a big challenge and everyone did a very good job – you don’t get too many worse jobs than that but we went all right.”

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