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A horrifying near miss at Ganavan Sands involving a runaway car and a family on the beach has prompted calls for an urgent risk assessment and a safety barrier to be explored.
A large Peugeot vehicle, which had been parked in the busy car park, rolled down the slipway and veered off towards an oblivious family gathered on the beach on the afternoon of Wednesday July 14.
Horrified onlookers yelled for them to get out of the way and the party, including a young baby, managed to escape, although its buggy ended up under the front of the out-of-control vehicle.
And an older member of the party – who eyewitnesses believe may have stopped the car from going any further – was injured in the collision and taken to hospital.
Dougie Graham, who has run a snack bar at the car park for five years and serves as a member of Oban Community Council, has now said something needs to be done to prevent vehicles from rolling off the car park.
Mr Graham said: ‘It’s an accident waiting to happen and has been for a number of years. Since I’ve been here this type of incident has happened about four times now.’
‘I would fully support working with anyone to rectify this and make it safer. People go there to enjoy the beach and they would never suspect a terrible accident.’
Mr Graham, who was among those calling 999, said very heavy motorhomes, weighing between three and seven tonnes, use the car park and the outcome could have been very different.
‘There’s no management structure at all on the car park and its carte blanche what you can and can’t do,’ he said.
The day before had been a warmer day with far more people on the beach, he said, adding that sunbathers were sitting either side of the slipway with their backs to the car park and using the slope as a windbreak. With wheelchair users unable to get on to the beach, some parked their wheelchair on the slipway to be near their family, but would not have been able to get out of the way in time had the incident happened then, he said.
At the scene last week, eyewitness John Gallacher, of Oban, told how he heard ‘a lot of screaming’. Mr Gallacher, who rang 999, said: ‘I saw the car rolling down the slipway. I thought at one point there was someone in it but there wasn’t, it was empty.
Mr Gallagher, who said his heart had jumped out of his chest at witnessing the incident, said it was a ‘pure accident’. Another eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: ‘There was a guy who was a bit older and while he was stood up looking around, it was too late and the car hit him, but thankfully it didn’t go over him.
‘The poor man rolled down but it had hurt his back, but maybe it was him who stopped the car.’
A Police Scotland spokesperson said police were called to a report of a man being injured at 3.10pm and that enquiries are continuing.
Argyll and Bute Council, which runs the car park, said: ‘This is an ongoing investigation, we are waiting to hear from Police Scotland to determine the cause of the incident.’