The grieving families of two sisters killed when a ute hit them while they walked home from a 21st birthday party, are angry the man suspected of hitting them can still drive. Brett Franklin, 28, has also made the local news in the Leongatha region for his win in a cycling championship supported by the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times and The Great Southern Star.
Reports of his win have infuriated the husbands of sisters Glenda Thomson, 49, and Michelle Hurst, 47, who were knocked down and killed on a Korumburra road by the ute Mr Franklin was allegedly driving. Ms Thomson's daughter, Tara Wells-Thomson, 25, was also struck by the ute in the May 29 accident and needs a wheelchair as she recovers from two broken legs.
Mr Franklin allegedly had a blood alcohol reading almost three times the legal limit when tested by police after the accident, but has not been charged with any offence.
Michelle Hurst's husband, Trevor, who runs Inverloch Newsagency, said he could not bear to sell the paper when the report of Mr Franklin's cycling win appeared. The family was upset the front page of one of the newspapers led with a story about new anti-hoon laws.
"This guy's running around living his own life and winning bike races," Mr Hurst said. "I couldn't go to work and sell those papers. I would have taken them all off the shelf. "I understand the law is the law but it doesn't help. "They had a really big write-up on him and it really hit home. "My wife's not here any more. My sister-in-law isn't here any more."
His brother-in-law, Peter Thomson said Mr Franklin had been seen by the family driving his work car around town. He said the cycling accolades were insensitive. "I couldn't believe it," he said. "He's saying 'Look at me, look at me'. "It's so infuriating. "This is just going on and on. "They haven't ... taken his licence off him."
Mr Hurst wrote a letter to the Herald Sun telling of his family's frustrations at being unable to move around the community without fear of seeing Mr Franklin. He said his children, Ryan and Jacki, had both been rattled after seeing Mr Franklin in control of a car since the accident.
The Herald Sun saw Mr Franklin driving his work car yesterday in the Korumburra area. He answered his mobile telephone while driving. When approached, he denied being Brett Franklin, despite the car displaying his name prominently.
Jacki Hurst, the daughter of Michelle, said she had warned Mr Franklin not to act like a fool in his new ute as he bragged about its power. Ms Hurst, who worked with Mr Franklin on a building site, said she issued the warning the day before the double tragedy.
"He was saying I wouldn't understand the power of this car the day before. I told him he was an idiot and to grow up."
Ms Hurst said she had seen Mr Franklin behind the wheel many times since the deaths as she struggled to go about her daily business.