A Victorian woman accused of killing four grandmothers in a crash on a remote road told police she saw a stop sign "flash by" a split second before the tragedy.
Lorraine Nicholson, 64, has denied gross negligence over the 2018 crash at Navarre, pleading not guilty to culpable and dangerous driving in the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Friday.
Elaine Middleton, Tess Ely, Dianne Barr and Claudia Jackson, aged between 64 and 75, died on May 5 when it's alleged Nicholson, speeding and not paying attention, T-boned their car at a crossroad.
Nicholson, supported by her husband and others, only spoke to enter her plea.
The grandmothers, from Hamilton, Heywood and Stawell, were also represented in court, with a contingent of Mrs Middleton's family attending to hear Magistrate Ron Saines say it was for a jury to decide on which, if any, charges Nicholson was guilty.
Court documents reveal Nicholson told police last year she found herself closer than she'd thought to the stop sign in the 80km/h zone where the Stawell-Avoca Road and Ararat-St Arnaud Road meet.
"I need to brake, but I can stop, I know I can stop," the Stawell woman said, telling officers she thought she braked.
"Then the car just sort of took off and I saw the stop sign flashing by me ... and there was like, there was a bang."
But her lawyer David Hallowes SC told the court "for whatever reason, the brake (was) not engaged".
Nearby resident Debborah Standfield watched the crash unfold from her porch, telling police she knew Nicholson's Jeep and Mrs Middleton's car would collide.
"When I first saw the Jeep my first thought was that it was going to (sic) fast and that it wasn't going to stop," she said.
"I looked into the intersection as the Jeep came straight through and hit the white Kia."
The impact sent both vehicles into a nearby paddock.
The four friends, headed home from a dance in St Arnaud, all died at the scene.
Nicholson was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Detective Leading Senior Constable Michael Hardiman, a crash reconstruction expert, revealed data taken from Nicholson's car showed five seconds before the crash she had her foot on the accelerator and was doing 94km/h in in 80km/h zone.
It's alleged her car was still travelling at 88km/h or 89km/h at the time of the collision.
Mr Hallowes said at its highest the crown case was that there had been a failure to apply the brake due to inattention, with no evidence of drug, alcohol or phone use.
"It is clear this incident was a catastrophe," he added.
"It is a tragedy for the four women who died, a tragedy for the four women's families and we can't properly understand the grief those four families have."
Between them the women have 11 children, 15 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Mrs Barr and Mrs Jackson are also survived by husbands.
Safety upgrades are planned for the intersection, including rumble strips and an extra speed warning signs.
Australian Associated Press