Hawthorn assistant coach Brett Ratten says the rest of his life will be punctuated by the loss of his son in a horror car crash near Melbourne.
Cooper Ratten, 16, was thrown from the back seat of a car that veered off a road and rolled at Yarra Glen just after 3am on Sunday.
“We love you so much. We will miss you forever,” the grieving father has written in a heartfelt tribute in the Herald-Sun.
“You had so much potential and ability in the things you set your mind to.
“You have been taken way too soon and we will miss your smile, your laugh and all your cheekiness.
“These memories will last forever. I wish I could kiss you, hug you, and hold you tight.”
Police believe it’s a miracle that two 17-year-old boys who were also in the car survived. They were taken to hospital under police guard.
All three played for Yarra Glen Football Club’s under-18 side and had attended a club function on Saturday night.
Police were looking at whether alcohol and drugs were factors in the high-speed crash in a suspected stolen car.
None of the teenagers are old enough to hold a licence but investigators say the driver may have held a learner’s permit.
Yarra Glen FC president Vincent Erickson says club members will be offered counselling to deal with the shock of Cooper’s loss.
“He was a respected kid and a talented footballer. It’s just a massive loss to the club,” he said.
Friend Jasmine Williams posted a recent picture on Facebook and spoke of her devastation.
“You look so happy … I love you Cooper, my boyfriend now my angel … forever. This world is so cruel,” she wrote.