Dad ‘shattered’ after son, 3, killed in storm
A doting father has been left shattered after his only child was killed when his car lost control in a storm just days before Christmas.
Tamworth man Luke Byrnes, 24, had visited friends in Dorrigo with little Archie, 3, and was almost home when the front hit them on the New England Highway just north of Moonbie on Sunday afternoon, causing his ute to veer off the road and smash into a boulder.
Emergency crews rushed to the wreckage but despite their best efforts Archie, who was seated in the back, could not be saved and died at the scene, leaving behind Mr Byrnes and his mother Sammy McAlpine, who was not in the crash.
Mr Byrnes avoided serious injuries and was released from Tamworth Hospital yesterday.
The tight-knit rugby league community in Tamworth has rallied to the support of Mr Byrnes, saying he was a "doting" and "proud" father who loved nothing more than his bubbly son.
North Tamworth Bears president Jodie Cooper said Archie would always run around as his dad played for the team on the weekends.
"They're such a kid-orientated family, which will make this so hard," he said.
"Archie is at the footy all the time, he's a cute kid - it's tragic. Everyone is pretty worried about (Mr Byrnes)"
Mr Byrnes' aunty, Rose Wadwell, said the league community was banding together to support him.
"We call it the Bear family, our players and their families are the Bears," she said.
"Archie has been down at the footy ever since he was born, running up and down the field. "Luke was the best dad and very proud of his son. We are very gutted - we can't understand it."
Mr Byrnes, who works as a beekeeper and in a Tamworth pub, often took to Facebook to describe his love for little Archie, once writing "I just love when Archie snuggles into me asleep. The feeling he gives me is indescribable. Hope I do him proud".
Mr Byrnes' sister, Sara, said it was "just the start" of the grieving process.
"Archie was the life of the family, he was always happy," she said.
Meanwhile, it was a horror start to the Christmas break with another toddler also dying within hours of Archie in a backyard pool at Port Stephens.
The 19-month-old boy was found unconscious in the pool at a home on Marsh Road in Bobs Farm about 6.40pm on Sunday.
Paramedics rushed to the scene and performed CPR, but the little boy was unable to be saved and died at the scene.
Initial investigations suggest there were no suspicious circumstances, police confirmed.