A much-loved elderly man and his dog have died after being hit by a car in Melbourne’s southeast.
Toni Jensen, 87, and his beloved dog Rusty were out for their regular evening walk on Tuesday when the tragedy occurred.
The pair were just metres from their home when they were struck by a Toyota FJ Cruiser at the intersection of Heatherton and Power roads in Endeavour Hills just after 7:30pm.
Both Jensen and Rusty died at the scene.
Neighbours said the great-grandfather walked the same route with Rusty every morning and night.
He was just a few metres away from a pedestrian crossing when he was struck.
“I turned around and I saw the man on the road. There were a few people taking care of him, checking on him,” a nearby resident told Channel 9.
A spokesperson for Jensen’s family said he was “loved by everybody”, especially his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He walked Rusty three times a day and was a real animal lover.
“He was very compassionate towards animals, especially dogs,” the spokesperson said.
Jensen’s four children described him as the “best dad ever”.
“Everyone went to him. He was like a magnet, always happy, nothing bothered him,” they said.
Jensen lived with his 90-year-old wife, to whom he had been married for more than 60 years. When he didn’t return home, she went outside to look for him and saw the flashing lights at the crash scene.
Police say the driver, a 37-year-old man from Endeavour Hills, is co-operating with the investigation. There is no suggestion he has broken the law.
“The Major Crash Investigation Unit is looking at all avenues of inquiry and are working to piece together what has gone on here,” said Detective Sergeant Peter Romanis.
“The driver is assisting police and we are hoping to understand how this tragedy unfolded.”
Mr Romanis said safety on Victorian roads was everyone’s responsibility.
“This is a tragic reminder for all users to drive to the conditions, be aware of your surroundings and be aware of vulnerable road users,” he said.
“We want to avoid circumstances like this wherever possible.”
The driver has been released pending further inquiries.
Police are calling on anyone who may have witnessed the collision or who may have footage of it to come forward.