Fatigue is believed to be the cause of an accident in Glenelg yesterday in which five pedestrians were seriously injured.
A four-wheel drive vehicle mounted the footpath, hitting a group of pedestrians waiting to cross Partridge Street at about 11.30am.
One person was thrown 5 metres while another was pinned between the vehicle's bullbar and a traffic light.
The driver was understood to have been celebrating his 27th birthday - which falls today - in the hours before the crash.
The dashboard of the man's vehicle was strewn with nightclub advertisements and empty caffeine energy drink bottles lay in the footwells.
Police said yesterday that it appeared that the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Witnesses said that the vehicle did not appear to slow down or avoid the crowd, but crossed south over busy Jetty Rd and drove up on to the footpath. Witnesses - and police - said the late model Jeep was not speeding but may have travelled through a red light. The Major Crash Investigation Section yesterday ruled out alcohol as a cause of the crash but said driver fatigue* was being investigated. Police said that it was fortunate that no one was killed. "it would seem that way to me", said Senior Constable Keith Atkins, of Major Crash.
"At least one of those pedestrians has received quite serious injuries. It's my understanding that one of the pedestrians might have been pinned against it (the traffic pole)." He said. The five seriously hurt pedestrians were taken by ambulance to Flinders Medical Centre with injuries which included broken bones, cuts and internal injuries.
Two of the most seriously hurt - a 64 year-old woman with multiple broken bones and a 76 year-old man with internal injuries - were still in hospital last night in stable conditions. One other man, 42, was admitted after the crash but released late last night. Two more people were treated at the scene by SA Ambulance paramedics. Dozens of people watched in horror as the car drove from Gordon St to Partridge St and mounted the corner footpath with traffic lights - which stopped the vehicle hitting pedestrians.
Ross Rake, of Glengowrie, who saw the impact as he sat in his car with his daughter, Alyssa, said one woman was catapulted about 5m from the pedestrian crossing.
"It was unbelievable, very scary," he said. "The lights were red and the 4WD continued across Gordon St. It made no attempt to stop. There were a lot of people around and no warning, no nothing, people were just pushed everywhere," he said.
The uninjured driver, who police say was "distraught", was being interviewed and is likely to face charges over the accident.
© 2004 News Limited