Sydney’s wet weather may have prevented greater chaos at Bondi Beach on Tuesday afternoon, lifeguards said, after a 90-year-old man lost control of his car and crashed on to the beach.
“Thank goodness it was a rainy day otherwise the fatalities could be many,’’ Bondi Rescue Lifeguards posted on their Facebook page after the incident.
There were few people on the southern end of the beach at the time, they said, because it had been raining.
Lifeguard Adriel Young was on duty about 1.30pm when the man's car landed on the beach, having careened along footpaths, through outdoor cafes and down a grass hill.
Mr Young, who was the first to examine the driver, said that on a normal summer’s day the southern end of Bondi, where the car stopped, would be one of the busiest areas in Sydney.
‘‘We were very lucky the weather is so bad down here,’’ Mr Young said.
‘‘If it was yesterday, we would have had thousands of people sun-baking on the sand, on the grass area where he would have gone through and in the cafes. We sort of dodged a bullet. We’re very lucky.’’
Moo Gourmet Burgers manager Dannielle Arnott ran down to the beach after the car crashed into Boost Juice and then into the cafe where she worked.
She said she heard the car mount the footpath on Campbell Parade and heard a girl scream about 1.30pm.
She thought the driver might be dead when she reached the beach but found him sitting in the car, trying to arrange for his grandson to pick up his wife from an acupuncture appointment.
Apart from losing his false teeth, he appeared to have survived the accident completely unscathed.
‘‘He didn’t remember any of it. He was completely fine apart from a sore arm with a bit of bruising.
‘‘It was just amazing. He had landed on the beach and I was trying to call the ambulance while he was trying to call his grandson. What an incredible guy.
‘‘I got on the phone to the grandson who asked where he was and I was like, ‘he is on the beach,’’’ Ms Arnott said, still shaking as she recalled the incident.
Mr Young said the man was in a ‘‘surprisingly good shape’’ and only had a scratch on his arm and was complaining of chest pains.
Paramedics treated the man for chest injuries and took him to St Vincent's Hospital in a stable condition.
Police said the driver ran off Lamrock Avenue and travelled along the footpath on the western side of Campbell Parade for about 20 metres, hitting chairs and tables outside a cafe.
A spokeswoman from NSW Fire and Rescue said the man had driven his Nissan Pulsar into two shops before landing on the beach, but could not confirm how much damage had occurred.
The car hit street signs and crossed Campbell Parade again, mounting the eastern footpath, where it travelled about 60 metres down an embankment in Bondi Park, then crashed through a metal barrier onto the promenade.
The car came to a stop on the sand at the southern end of Bondi Beach.
“It appears the driver missed all other vehicles and pedestrians,” police said.
A witness, Corey Oliver, said on Twitter (@bondibaggins) the car "wiped out a shop, ATM & headed down South Bondi hill, over the prom, to stop 15m onto the sand".
Police are investigating. They were still working with a tow truck to remove the car from the sand at 4pm.