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Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

Driver fined for speeding minutes before crash that killed Hongkonger, 4 others

Driver fined for speeding minutes before crash that killed Hongkonger, 4 others

Christopher Dillon Joannidis, 29, was reportedly driving at 118km/h in a 100km/h zone when he was pulled over by police, questioned and fined.

An Australian driver involved in a crash that killed five people including a Hong Kong resident was reportedly fined for speeding and released by police just three minutes before the accident in the state of Victoria.

Christopher Dillon Joannidis, 29, was driving at 118km/h (73mph) in a 100km/h zone at about 1.40pm on Thursday when he was pulled over by police, questioned and fined before being released at 2.18pm, Australian media reported.

Just three minutes later, Joannidis was involved in the crash on Murray Valley Highway at around 2.20pm, when his white Mercedes-Benz allegedly failed to give way and hit a Nissan Navara.

Christopher Dillon Joannidis, 29, from Melbourne, successfully applied for bail. He is charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing death in the accident.

The driver of the second vehicle lost control and hit an oncoming milk tanker, killing all five people in the Nissan, marking the state’s deadliest crash since 2012.

Joannidis and his female passenger, 20, were said to have sustained minor injuries.

A preliminary drug test conducted by police on him returned a positive result for cannabis, but he tested negative a second time, Australian reports said.

Joannidis, who was charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing death, appeared at Shepparton Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon and was granted bail. The conditions include not operating a vehicle, leaving the country or using any drugs. He returns to court on September 19.

The five killed instantly in the accident included local Debbie Markey, in her 60s, who drove the Nissan Navara. Her four passengers from Taiwan and Hong Kong also died. A dog in the car was also killed.

Markey was taking the four passengers, a man and three women aged between 23 and 30, home from a local abattoir after work when the accident happened.

Australia’s Nine News spoke to Markey’s loved ones, who described her as a kind person who found purpose in looking after foreign nationals.

Her son Daniel was quoted as saying she was “a ridiculously fun energetic person” who “had time for everyone”.

He said: “Her life has not been easy but she really found her purpose looking after these foreign nationals. A very proud mum and a great chef.”

A friend added: “She was always there for everybody else, cheering everyone else on when she was fighting her own demons you know.”

Hong Kong’s Immigration Department on Sunday said it was handling a case involving the accident and would follow up with the Chinese foreign ministry’s arm in Hong Kong, and the country’s consulate in Melbourne.

“The department has provided assistance and advice in accordance with the family’s request,” a spokeswoman said.

Hong Kong residents in need of help while overseas can contact the department via its 24-hour hotline 1868.


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