A 63-year-old man and his seeing eye dog have died after being hit by a car while walking on a highway in Victoria.
Raymond Meadows, of Bendigo, and his black Labrador Gerry, were struck by a Hyundai sedan while walking along Calder Highway in rural Wedderburn, north of Melbourne, around 6.40am, police said.
Meadows had been wearing a hi-vis vest with flashing lights and was taking his usual route to the gym, Mercury reported.
Highway patrol officials said the man was walking in an area with no street lighting and was hit in the dark.
‘He had his guide dog, a cane and was wearing a high-vis vest with flashing lights but we are unsure if they were working at the time,’ Campaspe Highway Patrol Senior Constable Paul Nicoll said.
Police said it was possible Meadows had been walking in the southbound lane and was not seen by the driver.
An air ambulance crew arrived at the scene but could not save the man. His two-year-old guide dog, provided by Vision Australia, also died at the scene.
The driver of the car, a man in his 20s, stopped to render assistance before being taken to hospital for shock.
Friends and family are now mourning the man, who was described as ‘very friendly’ and was known to walk to take long walks to the newsagency every morning.
‘He will be dearly missed’, a relative told the publication.
Mr Meadows’s wife rushed to the scene after learning of the accident and was reported to be ‘extremely sad’.
Vision Australia released a statement in the wake of the accident saying the man and dog duo had ‘touched the hearts of many’ at the organisation.
‘This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to Ray’s family, our staff, puppy carers and all that knew them’, general manager David Speyer told the Herald Sun.
The older man is the second pedestrian to die on Victorian roads in less than 12 hours.
Another man was killed when he was hit near a bus stop on Ferntree Gully Road in Notting Hill about 7.45pm on Saturday.
The car involved drove off and police are investigating.
Victoria’s road toll now sits at 139 compared to 88 this time last year.