The Warrnambool family of a teen killed in a tragic hit-and-run is calling for public support to help change the law.
Tyler Dean, 18, was killed in October last year after being hit by a four-wheel-drive while riding a motorised bike with a friend near Winchelsea. The driver fled the scene but was found a short time later.
A man has been charged, but is now on bail and free to continue driving.
It’s a legal reality that Tyler’s mum Jeynelle Dean-Hayes is fighting to change so that those charged with a hit-and-run offence automatically lose their licence.
An online petition has been launched and already gained more than 5200 signatures.
“We’re trying to make that change in Tyler’s honour,” Ms Dean-Hayes said.
“We’d much rather have Tyler with us but we can’t, so we’re making sure he’s not forgotten.
“We’re trying to get something positive out of such a horrible thing and we need as many signatures on it as we can so the government takes notice.”
Tyler’s uncle, Christopher Dean, who lives in Warrnambool, said the family was still struggling to come to terms with what had happened.
Mr Dean alleged the driver of the vehicle did not stop or render assistance and left Tyler’s friend there in the dark with only the light from his mobile phone to see what had happened to his mate.
“There are lots of ways motorists can lose their licence, but hit run appears to have been overlooked and it must change,” he said.
“It’s not just about our family and what happened, it’s just to make a change.
“It’s something that people generally don’t think about, that someone can do that and still stay on the road. We think that at least until the case is heard, if the driver has been charged with an offence they shouldn’t be on the road.”
Mr Dean said the fact the person charged with Tyler’s death was still getting behind the wheel was compounding his sister’s pain.
“Jeynelle sees him around and it distresses her, she keeps busy… but she sees the guy driving around. It’s a small town and it’s going to happen,” he said.
The Dean family was raised near Timboon before their house was destroyed in the Ash Wednesday fires and they moved into Warrnambool.
Mr Dean said his sister then made a life for herself in the Geelong region before moving to Winchelsea about four years ago.
Despite having some reservations about moving to the country, Mr Dean said Tyler soon found his feet.
“He had friends and he was out doing what young people do, they were out mucking around on their bikes and having fun,” Mr Dean said.
“Everyone speaks highly of him. He was always willing to help people and do things for them. He wouldn’t question it if someone needed a hand.
“I work as a disability support worker, and I’m really proud to say (on the night he died) he was visiting a man in a wheelchair, an older man… And that happens to him on the way home.
“He had just started a new job that week. He was one or two days into his apprenticeship as a panel beater.
“He had a whole life ahead of him.”
To view the petition visit www.change.org/p/luke-donnellan-hit-and-run-drivers-should-lose-their-licence-automatically