HAYDEN Atkinson-Thring was just 20 years old, once a promising junior footballer who had recently returned to Cobram with his girlfriend to work and save towards a dream trip around Australia.
But on Thursday night, he and his mates became involved in a fatal fight with another group of young men outside a service station.
Witnesses watched on horrified as one man produced a knife and stabbed Mr Atkinson-Thring.
He collapsed on the roadside, and as others came to his aid, Mr Atkinson-Thring failed to respond to their attempts to revive him.
His aunt, Sharon Atkinson, yesterday described her nephew as a boy just starting his life and his death as unnecessary, “a waste of young life”.
Police say the incident was “an act of needless and senseless violence”, as they try to determine how and why Thursday night’s fight began.
POLICE have described the death of Hayden Atkinson-Thring in a fight outside a Cobram service station on Thursday night as “an act of needless and senseless violence”.
Two men were last night interviewed by detectives in relation to the incident.
An 18-year-old Shepparton man was released pending further inquiries, police said.
A 27-year-old Cobram man remains in custody. No charges have been laid.
Mr Atkinson-Thring, 20, died after he was stabbed about 10.30pm on Thursday.
The Cobram man handed himself in at the Broadmeadows police station at 10am yesterday and the Shepparton man was in custody at the Shepparton police station just hours later.
Mr Atkinson-Thring was at the Caltex Service Station at the Murray Valley Highway and Station Street intersection when he and his friends became involved in a fight with another group of young men.
Cobram teenager Reid Wilson, 18, was getting money changed at the petrol station for the car wash next door when he saw the fight escalate at the petrol bowsers.
“They started grabbing each other’s shirts and as they were doing that, one of them just pulled out a knife,” Mr Wilson said.
He said Mr Atkinson-Thring was stabbed in the stomach and he stumbled to the nature strip along Station Street before collapsing.
“It was crazy and everyone was yelling. They said ‘Get him into the car’ and I said ‘Don’t get him in the car, get him on a stretcher and get him into the back of my car and take him down to the hospital’,” Mr Wilson said.
“And then the operator said we couldn’t move him at all so we just tried to apply pressure.”
Mr Wilson returned to the scene yesterday afternoon to pick up his parked car after police cordoned off the crime scene in Station Street.
He said he spoke to Mr Atkinson-Thring as those who came to his aid tried to keep him alive before paramedics arrived.
“He wasn’t responding,” Mr Wilson said.
Homicide squad Detective Sen-Sgt Shane O’Connell said two men had left the scene in a late model Holden Commodore after the altercation while several others remained at the scene to speak to police.
“There were quite a number of people present, the majority remained at the scene until police and ambulance attended,” Sen-Sgt O’Connell said.
He said between 10 and 20 people had seen the fight.