Two childhood friends died in each other’s arms after their luxury car swerved off a freeway ramp into water in Altona North on Saturday night.
Jason Gilham and Brad Dobney, both aged 27, were on their way home from dinner when their white Mercedes veered off the Western Ring Road and crashed into wetland about 8.45pm.
Mr Gilham’s devastated girlfriend posted a tribute to him on Facebook on Sunday, telling him “Please come back to me, I love you”.
His brother described him as a hard worker who would “do anything for anyone”.
The brother, who declined to give his name, said the 27-year-old from Hoppers Crossing was a “loving brother” who had just bought a house with his girlfriend.
“He had a girlfriend, they were in love … they just got back from Thailand a few days before,” he said.
Friends paid tribute to Mr Gilham as “a cracking guy” and “an awesome friend and work mate”.
Mr Dobney, from Sunshine, was remembered as a keen sportsman who was always there for anybody when needed.
The Wyndham All Abilities Football and Cricket Club issued a statement paying tribute to Mr Dobney, a former coach at the club who was also a runner during the 2017 season.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
The vehicle, believed to be a company car, was travelling near the Geelong-bound Princes Freeway off-ramp when it became airborne and crashed.
Star Weekly understands the pair tried to kick their way through a window as the vehicle sank. Police told family members they died holding each other.
A police spokeswoman said search and rescue divers tried to save the men but the vehicle was fully submerged, which hampered their efforts.
A tow truck being used to move the white Mercedes became bogged, with truck drivers working for more than 12 hours to tow the car from the base of the steep embankment.
Traffic slowed after VicRoads closed one lane of traffic as three tow trucks worked to remove the vehicle from the wetlands area.
Just after midday on Sunday, the car was winched from the wetlands. The road was reopened about 1pm.
The pair were well known within the drifting motorsport community.
The Victorian Drift Club released a statement lamenting the loss of “two great blokes”.
“These two boys were absolute champions and always had great big grins on their faces at events. They will be missed so much, by so many. Our condolences to all their family and friends. Rest in peace boys.”