The teenage son of Hawthorn assistant coach Brett Ratten has died in a car crash and police say it’s a miracle that two other youths survived.
Ringwood teenager Cooper Ratten, 16, was thrown from the back seat of the car after it veered off the road and rolled at Yarra Glen, northeast of Melbourne, just after 3am on Sunday.
He suffered life-threatening injuries and died on the way to hospital.
Two 17-year-old boys survived and remain in hospital under police guard.
All three played for Yarra Glen Football Club’s under-18 side on Saturday, and attended a club function that night.
Detective Sergeant David Yeoman says high speed, in excess of 100km/h, is an obvious factor and police are considering whether the car was stolen.
Investigators will also look at whether drugs and alcohol contributed to the tragedy, which occurred while visibility was low due to thick fog.
“I think its an absolute miracle that two people got out of that vehicle alive,” Det Sgt Yeoman told reporters.
The 17-year-old Yarra Glen boy, who was in the front seat, was taken to Box Hill Hospital with minor injuries, while the 17-year-old driver, of Healesville, was taken to Maroondah Hospital.
Police will speak to the pair and lay charges if necessary, Det Sgt Yeoman said.
None of the teenagers are old enough to hold a licence, and investigators say the driver may have held a learner’s permit.
Police say the teenagers who survived were wearing seatbelts, but think Cooper was not.
“To be doing what is clearly well in excess of 100km an hour, in conditions such as this, can only lead to tragedy,” Det Sgt Yeoman said.
Tributes have started to pour in for Cooper, with the Hawthorn Football Club sending condolences to his family.
“With much sadness, all at Hawthorn FC send their condolences to Brett Ratten and his family,” the club tweeted.
“Our thoughts are with you at this tragic time.”
Yarra Glen FC president Vincent Erickson said Cooper’s death was a terrible shock and would be tough for club members, who would be offered counselling.
“He was valued member of the club, he got on really well with his peers,” he told AAP.
“He was a respected kid and a talented footballer. It’s just a massive loss to the club.”
Brett Ratten captained Carlton during his 255-game AFL career and featured in the Blues’ 1995 premiership. He also coached the team from 2007 until his sacking at the end of the 2012 season.
Soon after leaving Carlton, Ratten started working under Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson as an assistant.