THE region’s community, from Leongatha to Wonthaggi, Dalyston and Phillip Island is in mourning today at the loss of one of its much-loved sons, Campbell Ion, 16, after tragic events on the Bass Highway last Saturday morning.
Police said the 16-year-old was the passenger in a utility which crashed into a truck, 100 metres north of the Anderson Roundabout, at about 7.40am. The road was wet after a recent shower of rain.
The driver of the ute, Campbell’s brother Lucas, 18, was airlifted to hospital with “serious injuries”.
The pair were on their way to play football for the Dalyston Football Netball Club, at Koo Wee Rup. All matches were subsequently abandoned.
The highway was closed until mid-afternoon and traffic was diverted around the scene while police from the Major Collision Investigation Unit reviewed the incident.
News of the tragedy spread fast and players, members and supporters of the Dalyston club gathered at the clubrooms from early on Saturday morning, “shattered” and disbelieving of what had just occurred.
Club president Andy Thomas spoke to the media confirming that the boys had planned to play football at Koo Wee Rup before the tragedy occurred.
“They’re a wonderful family and just lovely people, great club people,” Mr Thomas told reporters.
“Our hearts are bleeding at the moment. It’s an absolute tragedy.
“All the Dalyston supporters will rally around the family and we’ll do whatever it takes to look after everybody and their welfare.”
After meeting with and consoling those who arrived at the ground, the club held a brief but solemn ceremony out the front of the old social rooms where the Australian flag was lowered to half-mast where it continues to fly.
It was almost too much to bear after the club lost 18-year-old Luke Bolding, killed in similar circumstances, coming home from the football at Fish Creek in May 2015.
The education community has rallied together to support fellow students, team mates and the family.
At Mary Mackillop College yesterday, the school held a prayer service for Campbell, a Year 10 student at the school, and for Lucas his brother, a former student at Mary Mac.
College principal David Leslie described Campbell as “an energetic and cheerful young man, well-liked by both his peers and teachers”.
“He will be greatly missed and our hearts go out to his family at this very sad time.”
The Catholic Education Office and neighbouring schools provided additional counsellors to assist Mary Mackillop College where needed and it is understood that the Wonthaggi Secondary College also had counsellors available to support team mates and friends of Campbell.