The family of Epsom residents Jess and Deighton West have paid tribute to their loved ones after they lost their lives in a crash shortly after Christmas.
Mrs West, 37, and her five-year-old son Deighton died in a two-vehicle collision at Kingston, near Creswick, on the afternoon of December 29.
Mrs West's husband and Deighton's father Anthony suffered minor injuries in the crash, and while nine-year-old Oakley was airlifted to Melbourne in a critical condition, his condition has improved and he is recovering.
The family's statement is below:
"Jess West was an exceptional, generous and caring woman with a bubbly personality and aged 37 years. Jess died in a vehicle collision last Sunday the 29th December. She was born in Traralgon, educated at Avoca Primary School, Highview Christian College in Maryborough and graduated from Ballarat Grammar in 2000. Jess then went on to Latrobe University in Bendigo where she graduated and became a successful and highly competent Primary School teacher, the last 10 years of which has been at Strathfieldsaye Primary School. Jess will be greatly missed by family, friends, her school community and sporting & recreational bodies in the Bendigo Region.
Deighton West who was 5 years old died in the same vehicle collision as his mother Jess. He showed great sporting potential and was very excited at the prospect of joining his brother Oakley at School this year to start his formal education. Deighton had just graduated from Jenny's ELC Kindergarten. Deighton was a very caring little boy, a characteristic developed by his very close family.
Jess was a devoted loving wife of Anthony West and mum of Oakley who is 9 years old. Jess was and always will be the love of Anthony's life. She would walk into a room and instantly make the vibe of the room better like no other. There aren't enough words to use to express how much he will miss Jess.
Jess had an enormous influence in our lives, and we will continue to follow her legacy to ensure Oakley reaches his full potential.
Deighton, your infectious smile and cheeky grin will forever be embedded in our minds. Your thirst for life and desire to be the best at whatever you did was nothing short of inspiring. We love you little man. Take care of mum and never stop trying to win. Love always.
The West and Shearer families would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Emergency Services Personnel. In addition, we would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the extraordinary staff at the Royal Children's Hospital who are caring for Oakley. We are hugely indebted to the amazing staff at Victoria Police for their incredible and caring involvement with our families.
We thank everyone for their love and sympathy during this very sad time. We request no flowers and suggest donations be made to the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal."
Strathfieldsaye Primary School published a tribute to Mrs West and Deighton in the Bendigo Advertiser on Tuesday.
The school said its community was devastated by the loss of the pair.
It described Mrs West as a "passionate, committed and enthusiastic teacher who was adored by her students, teachers and parents alike and will be deeply missed".
The school said Deighton was "always a delight to have around and a great mate to many of our students".
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