A serious single vehicle crash near Mathoura which left a car engulfed in flames was caused by a kangaroo, according to witnesses.
Passengers on a V/Line bus from Melbourne to Deniliquin watched in disbelief as the car veered off the road, rolled and then exploded into flames.
The driver of the vehicle was able to extract himself before the vehicle was fully engulfed in fire.
The accident happened about 10pm on Wednesday.
Former Deniliquin mayor Lindsay Renwick and his wife Jan were among the passengers on the bus, which was travelling on the Cobb Hwy when the crash occurred about 1km from the Walliston Rd turn-off.
The incident has sparked fresh calls from local advocates for the NSW Government to allow for a kangaroo cull between Deniliquin and Moama, with kangaroo numbers reportedly in plague proportions along the notorious stretch of Cobb Hwy.
Mr Renwick said it could only be luck which saw the driver walk away from Wednesday’s crash.
‘‘There was a bang and then there was an instant fireball,’’ Mr Renwick said.
‘‘Our bus driver stopped and myself and another man jumped off. The other guy got straight on the phone to emergency services and I went to get closer to the car.
‘‘Out of the smoke came a man who said he was okay but asked if I had seen his dogs, just before they dogs ran out (from the wreckage).
‘‘He must be the luckiest man alive — he didn’t appear to have any injuries.
‘‘The bus was travelling directly behind him and he must have hit the ‘roo — which was found on the road near the crash — and went down the table drain. He must have ricocheted off a couple of trees before rolling.
‘‘It was quite scary; I have never seen a car fire like that. But all I was concerned about was if anyone was still in the car.’’
A kangaroo cull has been a priority on Murray River Councillor Tom Weyrich’s agenda for some time.
He took a motion for the cull to the Local Government NSW conference in early December where it was passed, meaning it would be sent to the NSW Government to be enacted. Cr Weyrich said there had been no progress.
He said last week’s incident was another example of why this matter must be dealt with immediately.
‘‘Kangaroo numbers are rising at a rapid rate and there a more dead ‘roos on the roads than there have ever been before,’’ Cr Weyrich said.
‘‘The potential for multiple deaths as a result of hitting a ‘roo is there, and it’s very real.
‘‘Imagine if it was a couple and their children in the car that crashed last week. Someone will ultimately pay with their lives.
‘‘I understand the reluctance some people have to cull our national emblem, but that does not diminish the danger of kangaroos.
‘‘Through the general manager (of Murray River Council) I want to push for a timeline to get this cull enacted. I will be on the government’s case in an effort to expedite the progress where I can.
‘‘Culling of these kangaroos is the only viable option available to us. Canberra is participating in a cull at the moment and Victoria is doing aerial surveys with the intention of a cull, and now we need to be doing something.’’