Gooseberry Hill: Dylan Soklich revealed as teen killed in crash as tributes flow for caring, beautiful boy

Lauren Price and Phil Hickey
The Nightly
5 Min Read
Dylan Soklich was a passenger in a Toyota Corolla being driven by a 17-year-old P-plater when it left the road in Gooseberry Hill, rolled several times and hit a tree about 8.40pm on Wednesday.
Dylan Soklich was a passenger in a Toyota Corolla being driven by a 17-year-old P-plater when it left the road in Gooseberry Hill, rolled several times and hit a tree about 8.40pm on Wednesday. Credit: Facebook

A 16-year-old boy killed when the car he was in rolled and crashed into a tree east of Perth dreamt of becoming a gymnastics teacher and has been remembered by his family for wanting to “spread his happiness”.

Dylan Soklich was a passenger in a Toyota Corolla being driven by a 17-year-old P-plater when it left the road in Gooseberry Hill, rolled several times and hit a tree about 8.40pm on Wednesday.

Dylan was rushed to St John of God Hospital in Midland but could not be saved. The driver and a second passenger, an 18-year-old man, both suffered serious injuries and were flown to Royal Perth Hospital.

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They were in a stable condition on Thursday afternoon.

Dylan’s heartbroken family visited the crash scene on Thursday afternoon, consoling each other and crying as they tried to come to terms with the tragedy that unfolded just hours earlier.

They tracked the chalk marks on the road — that led to a slight bend into a strip of bush to the tree — in a bid to understand the devastating sequence of events.

They were too distraught to speak, but his brother wanted the world to know Dylan was a “really happy person” who wanted to “spread his happiness”.

It is understood the teen was a netball coach who dreamt of becoming a gymnastics teacher.

Over the course of the afternoon, a bed of flowers started to slowly form at the foot of the tree the car hit.

A school friend leaves a tribute, which includes an image of Dylan Soklich taken at the HBF run for a reason.
A school friend leaves a tribute, which includes an image of Dylan Soklich taken at the HBF run for a reason. Credit: Halim Mellick

Dozens of teenagers visited the scene to pay their respects, standing solemnly at the roadside as they stared at the trampled bush.

A school friend said she shared most of her classes with Dylan and described him as a “beautiful human being”.

“He was loving and caring, everyone should have a person like him in their life,” she said.

“He was a beautiful human being. I sat with him everyday at school. He loved going and hanging out with friends and going on runs.”

One of Dylan’s last photographs posted to Instagram just a few days ago showed him smiling with a friend, having just completed Sunday’s HBF Run for a Reason charity race.

The same photo was left at the crash scene on Thursday inside a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Residents who live nearby recounted the moment they were confronted with the tragic scene, rushing out of their homes to help.

One of Dylan’s last photographs posted to Instagram just a few days ago showed him smiling with a friend, having just completed Sunday’s HBF Run for a Reason charity race.
One of Dylan’s last photographs posted to Instagram just a few days ago showed him smiling with a friend, having just completed Sunday’s HBF Run for a Reason charity race. Credit: Instagram/Supplied

One resident — who was one of the first to arrive at the scene — said she held one of the injured teens as if he was “one of her own”.

“They were calling out for help,” she said

“I got here and the boy in the back was most injured so we just went to him straight away.

“My son pulled him back against the seat, so he did have a seat belt on. He opened his airway and I supported the back of his head.

“The boy in the back was unconscious the whole time, we just reassured him and waited for the ambulance and crew to arrive.

“It was very sad, a horrible situation … I held him as if he was mine, it was a very sad night.”

Another resident described hearing a woman — believed to be one of the boy’s mothers — scream and wail when she arrived at the wreckage.

Dylan was a “really happy person” who wanted to “spread his happiness”.
Dylan was a “really happy person” who wanted to “spread his happiness”. Credit: Facebook/Supplied

The resident said she was doing yoga when she heard a car accelerate and hit a curb, followed by a loud bang.

“About 10 locals were immediately on scene doing what they could, they were amazing, they lifted the driver out,” she said.

“I heard an awful wailing and screaming, it was absolutely heartbreaking … I think it was one of their mums.

“It breaks my heart. You can just see the chain of events. At one point they were three happy kids and then their lives are instantly changed forever.”

She said that police and forensics remained at the scene until she went to sleep about 2am.

Harry O’Reilly came to lay a wreath of flowers at the tree.

He said he heard a loud bang, and someone scream for help before he rushed to the scene to find the car on its side.

“There were three other people here as well, they were all helping out basically,” he said.

“Three of the boys were badly trapped in the car. One boy I spoke to, I believe he was the driver, was quite upset too, he didn’t know what happened, he couldn’t remember.

“But he was a nice kid.

Mr O’Reilly said they managed to free the 17-year-old driver from the wreckage.

“He was obviously very upset about his mates,” he said.

“The driver had a broken leg and the guys in the car were injured pretty badly.”

Pieces of a broken windscreen with a P-plate at the scene.
Pieces of a broken windscreen with a P-plate at the scene. Credit: Halim Mellick/The Nightly

Another resident — who did not wish to be named — said she had been at the theatre at the time of the crash, but was “horrified” to come home and find out what happened.

“It’s dreadful isn’t it,” she said.

“We’re absolutely horrified … there were police cars, ambulance, the road was blocked off.

“It’s just awful to think you’re out there having a good time and someone’s lost their son.”

Premier Roger Cook said the death of any teenager in a motor vehicle accident was “horrible and tragic”.

“We know that these kids are looking forward to the future. And just as a result of a split-second decision, lack of control, they can lose their lives,” Mr Cook said.

“It’s just another reminder to, please, everyone out there that gets behind the wheel of a car to think about the consequences. “

“Think about your safety. Think about the safety of others.”

The narrow, but windy street, which is lined with houses, leads to the zig-zag lookout — a popular spot that overlooks the city.

Major crash investigators again returned to the scene about 3.45pm on Thursday to examine a bend in the road about 25m from where the Corolla hit a tree.

The road was temporarily closed for a second time before a drone was deployed to examine the scene from above.

Major crash investigators are urging anyone with any information relating to this crash, or who saw the blue Toyota Corolla hatchback travelling in the area prior to the crash, to contact Crime Stoppers on1800 333 000 or online at www.crimestopperswa.com.au.

Dash-cam or mobile phone vision relating to this crash can be uploaded directly to investigators via this link.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by a road crash, contact Road Trauma Support WA on 1300 004 814

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