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Brothers followed before fatal crash on Calder Highway

Police at the scene of the crash where two people were killed on the Calder Highway. Picture: Eugene Hyland

Accident scene: Police at the scene of the crash where two brothers were killed on the Calder Highway. Picture: Eugene Hyland Source: News Limited

THE grieving family of two brothers killed in a horror crash in Victoria’s northwest spoke to one of the men moments before the impact.

Gary Whearem, 55, and Fred Whearem, 31, died when their car smashed into trees on the Calder Highway on Saturday afternoon.

Gary and Fred’s sister Jane Rowley said the pair had been at their brother John’s house in Charlton when, after they left, John received a desperate call from Fred.

“Fred actually rang John and said ‘You better get in your car and come now, we’re being followed’,” Mrs Rowley said.

“So they’ve actually chased Gary and Fred and the next minute I hear there was a car accident.”

She confirmed reports that her brothers had called the police in the moments before the crash to say they were being chased.

Going through the debris at the scene yesterday morning, Mrs Rowley alleged that her brothers had been driven off the road in a heated incident involving Gary’s ex-partner and her boyfriend and another friend of the couple.

Witnesses told police they saw three cars driving side by side along the two lane highway moments before the smash, near Glenalbyn at about 12.40pm.

Police believed that two cars in the trio, one with Gary and Fred and the other with a male driver and his female passenger, collided before slamming into nearby trees.

When police arrived at the scene they found the brothers dead, their blue Ford wrapped around a tree, and a 67-year-old man and 35-year-old woman seriously injured in a tan Ford.

The injured pair were taken to hospital under police guard while a Wedderburn man, 51, who had been driving a gold Commodore, was unharmed and arrested at the scene.

Gary, from Cobram, was on holidays and had travelled to the Bendigo area on Friday to visit his family. Fred was from Wedderburn.

Mrs Rowley said she knew the injured pair who were in police custody in hospital and said that the woman, 35, and her brother Gary broke up a few years ago and had two daughters together.

“All I know was that Gary was getting phone calls from (the injured man in custody),” she said.

The brothers’ aunt, Florence Mason, said Gary told her there had been previous run-ins between the families.

“It’s been going on for a while,” she said.

Gary’s stepdaughter Lesley Dehne, who said she would change her last name to Whearem in her dad’s honour, described him as a “caring” man.

“Dad was very loving and caring, he’d do anything for anyone, same as uncle Fred,” she said.

“I wish dad and uncle Fred were still here.

“They didn’t deserve it.”

The family of the dead brothers wanted those responsible to be jailed for life.

Police confirmed yesterday they had released the Wedderburn man from custody pending further inquiries while the other man, 67, and woman, 35, were still in hospital under police guard.

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen cars driving erratically on the Calder Highway near Glenalbyn on Saturday afternoon to come forward.

If anyone has information, they are urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
 

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