Pothole victims left without wheels

ANGER is mounting over damage to cars caused by a notorious pothole on the Warrnambool-Cobden Road with VicRoads appearing to deny responsibility for vehicle repairs. 

Elingamite mum Georgia Wakeling and her sons Tilba, six months, and Zeff, 2, are stranded after their car was damaged by a pothole.140815LP23 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Elingamite mum Georgia Wakeling and her sons Tilba, six months, and Zeff, 2, are stranded after their car was damaged by a pothole.140815LP23 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

At least 12 cars have been reported damaged by the pothole, with the Wakeling family of Elingamite, among the worst affected.

At one stage on Saturday, August 2, there were four damaged cars lined up by the side of the road and a police car parked near the pothole with its lights flashing to warn motorists of the danger.

The Wakelings, who live west of Cobden, have been without its family car for more than two weeks because it remains undriveable after hitting the pothole late on the night of July 31.

The absence of the family car has forced Jeff Wakeling, who has a handyman and gardening business, to forego many work commitments and remain at home to ensure he can respond quickly if his young family has an emergency.

Mr Wakeling said he knew immediately that his VW Passat was damaged when he hit the pothole, but did not know the extent.

The car had a flat tyre two days later and he later found out that not only were two wheel rims broken, but the back of the car had been bent out of alignment.

Two car repairers have since said the damage was beyond their expertise to fix and the car is presently sitting at a third repairer awaiting work.

The family faces another two weeks before the car is likely to be back on the road.

Mr Wakeling has a ute and a truck but the car seats for his two young children under three cannot fit safely into the only seat of his ute.

His wife is not licensed to drive the truck.

Mr Wakeling’s anger about his family’s situation was exacerbated yesterday when he received a letter from VicRoads denying his claim for compensation.

He said he would continue to press his claim for compensation through legal action.

It was “appalling” that VicRoads was denying responsibility when the poor state of the Warrnambool-Cobden Road had left his family in a difficult situation, he said.

Another victim of the pothole, Maria Riordan of Warrnambool, said her insurance company intended to press her claim for compensation of more than $2000 with VicRoads.

Mrs Riordan said an RACV repairman had told her he had attended to a flat tyre caused by the pothole on July 13, three weeks before her car was damaged on August 2.

VicRoads south-west director William Tieppo said VicRoads was only liable for damage to vehicles on the Warrnambool-Cobden Road when it had not repaired a hazard or make it safe with appropriate signage within seven days of learning of the hazard. 

VicRoads was made aware of the pothole on the Warrnambool-Cobden Road at Laang on the afternoon of Friday, August 1, he said. 

“The pothole was repaired the next morning,” Mr Tieppo said.

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