THE Baranduda community closed ranks yesterday as it mourned the loss of one of its own, Matthew Bownds.
Described as a “jovial bloke” who doted on his wife and five daughters, Mr Bownds, 40, died on Sunday when his motorcycle hit a car’s trailer at Leneva.
His daughter, 12, who was a passenger on the motorcycle, is in a serious condition at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
As the news spread through the close-knit suburb, few were willing to speak publicly, the tragedy was still raw.
But those who did reflected on a nice guy, a truck driver who loved his children, and empathised deeply with the Bownds family’s grief.
Graeme Dawson, who owns Dawson Haulage Baranduda where Mr Bownds had worked until recently, said he would “certainly be sadly missed”.
“To some, he might have looked a bit of a scary bear,” he said.
“But he was such a pleasant guy — very jovial, very helpful.
“It’s such a terrible thing, especially for his wife and their girls.”
Mr Dawson, who knew Mr Bownds before he worked for his business, said he had just recently left the company for a job that would mean he was not on the road so much.
“He wanted to stay at home a little more and help with the girls,” he said.
Others went online, leaving messages of tribute on The Border Mail’s Facebook page.
“RIP to a good mate, fellow truckie, only seen him in the shops last week. Everyone will miss u dearly ol mate,” wrote one.
“May the family have the love, strength and support to get through this hard time,” wrote another.
The crash happened about 2.30pm on Baranduda Boulevard, with both Mr Bownds and the car heading away from Wodonga.
Mr Bownds’ motorcycle hit the trailer of a Toyota Hilux, driven by a Wodonga man, 54.
Police are still investigating.