14 March 2021

Police podcast seeks to identify deadly hit-and-run driver

| Edwina Mason
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Braydon Worldon.

NSW Police suspect 15-year-old Braydon Worldon was struck by a medium or heavy rigid truck on River Road, near Wantabadgery, in 2018. Photo: NSW Police.

Detectives are re-appealing for information from the public that may assist in identifying the driver of a vehicle that hit and killed a teenage boy near Wantabadgery in NSW’s southwest two years ago.

And they’re not just knocking on locals’ doors and canvassing nearby farms.

They’re also relying on new media – a podcast – which was released this week to help shed light on the investigation into the death of 15-year-old Braydon Worldon, who was found dead in the middle of a quiet country road in 2018.

Former Nine Network reporter and now crime writer Adam Shand produces the State Crime Command podcasts in conjunction with NSW Police, and he says the clock is ticking on this particular story, with a coronial inquest into Braydon’s death set down for 30 March, 2021, in Wagga Wagga.

Adam says, if anything, he hopes the podcast will reach more people with more details which might trigger a memory to help solve the mystery in time.

Appeal for information image for Braydon Worldon.

A new National Crime Command podcast details the circumstances and investigation into the death of Braydon Worldon. Photo: NSW Police.

“It’s a good little story – one of those ones that tells you someone knows something,” he says.

“In this case, because it’s such a small town, and then it’s just a question of who used this road at that time.”

At about 1.30 am on Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, emergency services were called to River Road, a quiet country lane near the small village of Wantabadgery, 40km east of Wagga Wagga, after a passing motorist reported a body on the road.

The driver had stopped to render assistance and discovered it was the body of a teenage boy which was later identified as Braydon Worldon.

On the day he died, Braydon was celebrating his 15th birthday and he was struck just 2km from his home on a nearby property.

He was last seen alive during the evening of Tuesday, 18 December, at around 7.30 pm when he headed out for a walk – one of his favorite pastimes – on an evening that, due to daylight savings, would have remained light for at least another hour.

There is no information about his whereabouts between 7.30 pm and 1.30am when his body was discovered on the road.

Braydon was believed to be on foot and walking near his grandfather’s house.

A motorist had passed through the location at around 9.30 pm but, according to police, saw nothing.

River Road, near Wantabadgery.

River Road, near Wantabadgery, is a narrow, quiet country road with very little traffic. It was on this stretch of road where Braydon Worldon was killed. Photo: National Nine News.

What happened to Braydon remains a mystery, but police believe he may have been hit by a heavy vehicle, fitted with a bull bar, travelling along River Road.

With the driver still at large, police are appealing to the public for any information, or to someone who may have been involved in the accident to help bring closure to Braydon’s family.

Wantabadgery’s population is 187 – 81 families living in 43 dwellings, and all have been visited as part of the police investigation since 2018.

Strike Force Dunstable was established by detectives from Riverina Police District to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, with Detective Inspector Stan Wall on the case from the start.

He says the road – a quiet, narrow unlined local road which meanders alongside the Murrumbidgee River – is one well known by locals for its farming community, local fishing spots, camping areas and as an alternative route to other nearby towns.

It was an area frequented by Braydon, a keen, carefree outdoors lad who also loved a spot of fishing, often heading down to a nearby river crossing, 13km from Wantabadgery and just a few hundred metres beyond Worldon Lane.

Braydon Worldon.

Braydon Worldon was a keen fisherman who was always out and about adventuring around his home on farmland near the Murrumbidgee River. Photo: NSW Police.

“It’s a quiet road by night – it may have been possible Braydon was laying there for hours,” said Detective Inspector Wall.

“We went out there on the second anniversary of Braydon’s death to monitor vehicle movements and just one car passed us in five hours.”

Braydon was 200-300 metres along one of the straights on the road on a clear night when he was hit, now evidenced by a spot marked with hats, a rabbit trap and fishing lines.

Further forensic investigations have led police to suspect a medium-to-heavy rigid vehicle was involved in the incident.

Police are seeking any information from the public in relation to heavy vehicles that use River Road, Wantabadgery, as well as those who may have been in the Wantabadgery area on the night of the incident.

Their renewed efforts ahead of this month’s inquest include canvassing farms on the Old Hume Highway and River Road, and examining any rigid or heavy vehicles in the area.

“It’s possible we’ve already spoken to the perpetrator – the road is certainly an indication of local knowledge as it connects towns and the location,” said Detective Inspector Wall.

Riverina Police District Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Adrian Telfer, said police are leaving no stone unturned.

“We are continuing to follow up on information provided by the public as well as our own avenues of investigation,” he said.

“We want to be able to provide answers to Braydon’s mother, Crystal, and the rest of his family regarding the circumstances of his death.

“Any information that can be provided by the public is invaluable.”

To listen to the free State Crime Command podcast, click here.

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