THE man who sped into his family, badly injuring his former partner and narrowly missing three young children before killing himself, had repeatedly threatened to crash into his in-law’s house and kill everyone inside.
Senior police said yesterday it was a ‘‘miracle’’ that more people were not killed after an agitated William Smith, 29, accelerated towards the front yard of the Blackalls Park home late on Thursday as his former partner, Melissa Lapinski, stood on the front lawn with one of her sisters, three of her children and two police officers.
The Ford Falcon, which neighbours estimated was doing in excess of 100km/h, crashed through a steel fence and hit Ms Lapinski, causing serious compound leg fractures, before slamming into a large tree and killing Mr Smith.
‘‘When I came out, all I saw was a lady with the kids hanging off her and they were all screaming,’’ neighbour Katie Wright said.
‘‘I grabbed the kids, they were a mess.’’
Three of Ms Lapinski’s children, believed to be aged 10, five and three, were standing near the Railway Avenue house’s verandah as their father careered towards them.
It is understood the eldest may have pushed two of his siblings to safety. Ms Lapinski’s youngest child, aged about one, was inside the house at the time.
It is believed the three youngest children also belong to Mr Smith.
A sister of 32-year-old Ms Lapinski, who did not wish to be named, said she was also in the front yard.
‘‘I ran that way and she went the other and she got hit,’’ the woman said.
‘‘We are concerned about the children at the moment, they were saying last night, ‘my dad better not be dead’.
‘‘He is going to be a missed father, his kids loved him.’’
The woman said her sister’s relationship with Mr Smith was ‘‘on again, off again’’. Her sister had been operated on early yesterday.
‘‘I can’t say it was an accident... I think he was just angry.’’
Although police would not speculate on any history, the Newcastle Herald understands there had been reports of domestic incidents between the pair before Thursday night.
It is understood Mr Smith had repeatedly threatened to drive into the house in the weeks leading up to the incident, and had repeated it again minutes before he did.
Police said they were called to the scene after reports that Mr Smith had damaged Ms Lapinski’s car with a baseball bat, smashing a light and shattering a windscreen.
However, some neighbours said they thought that damage had been done earlier in the week.
Ms Wright said they heard a commotion about 9pm, with someone continually sounding a car horn outside Ms Lapinski’s house before accelerating up and down the street doing burnouts.
They also heard raised voices.
By 10pm, the police had been called and two officers pulled up outside the house and Mr Smith reversed out.
A highway patrol officer followed the car about 100metres up the road, before Mr Smith turned around and careered towards the house.
Ms Lapinski and her sister were at the small fence waiting to speak with the two other officers, who were on the nature strip, with the three children a couple of metres behind them.
‘‘He had no intention of stopping, he was flying,’’ neighbour Norrie Wright said.
‘‘You could hear the kids screaming and the adults screaming and the police were just bewildered.’’
Newcastle City police are in charge of a critical incident investigation as part of police protocol following serious incidents involving police pursuits.
Lake Macquarie local area commander Superintendent Craig Rae said it was a ‘‘miracle’’ no one else was killed.