News of Craig Smith’s death in Monday’s car crash in Coleman Street has sparked a wave of tributes as Wagga mourns a well-known and respected man.
An adored husband and father, Mr Smith was a keen cyclist, footballer, cherished colleague and friend to the elderly who came to him for financial advice.
November 19 would have marked his 54th birthday.
Mr Smith had recently been a proud father-of-the-bride for the first time to his eldest daughter Kailah at her wedding.
Just before 10am on Monday, Mr Smith told his colleagues at Blue Ribbon Financial Services he was “just ducking out to see a client”.
Moments later, his ute was struck by a blue Commodore.
Wagga Detective Inspector Darren Cloake said police allege the Commodore’s 20-year-old driver was at the traffic lights on the corner of Coleman and Edmondson streets when he “accelerated in an aggressive manner” shortly before the collision took place.
The impact was so great, it pushed Mr Smith’s ute more than 30 metres along the road and “almost split the cabin in half”, Detective Inspector Cloake said.
Ian Burkinshaw from Blue Ribbon Financial Services said both he and Mr Smith were nearly hit on the same road weeks before by a motorbike “that was going 180 km/h”.
The 20-year-old Victorian driver and his two 21-year-old passengers were taken to hospital, each in a stable condition.
All three had been at a TAFE course before getting in the car on Monday morning.
“The people who engage in that type of activity for short-term thrills face a lifetime of consequences,” Detective Inspector Cloake said.
At the Coleman Street crash site, floral tributes and cards were laid from those who knew and loved Mr Smith, while on social media there was an outpouring of grief.
Counselling and support services have been offered to students at TAFE and Mater Dei Catholic College, where Mr Smith’s son is a popular student.
The loss was also being acutely felt at Wagga gym Xceler8, where Mr Smith’s wife, Tania, is a cherished instructor.
The focus is now on the grief-stricken family who are inconsolable at the loss of their husband and father.
Mr Burkinshaw said thousands more people in the community are hurting from Mr Smith’s death.
“He was a gentle giant. Softly spoken, everything calculated and a godsend,” Mr Burkinshaw said.
“There is going to be a huge void here for many.”