AFL legend Danny Frawley has died after a crash near Ballarat this afternoon.
Frawley, the longest-serving captain at St Kilda and Saints Hall of Fame member, was driving a white utility on Old Melbourne Road near Millbrook about 1.40pm before it left the road and hit a tree.
Nicknamed 'Spud', the champion footballer, who also coached Richmond for four seasons, grew up in Bungaree and was recruited to the AFL after his schooling at St Patrick's College.
"The St Patrick's College community is devastated by the tragic death of Old Collegian and inducted College Legend Danny Frawley," the college said in a statement.
"Danny was a student at the College from 1976 to 1979 and was among the very first Old Collegians inducted as a Legend of the Old Collegians Association in 2002.
"Throughout his incredible football and media career Danny has forever been a passionate, present and vocal advocate of St Patrick's College, and often offered his services to assist in our 1st XVIII program.
"The College will offer its hand of care and support to Danny's immediate family including wife Anita, daughters Chelsea, Danielle and Keeley, mother Shirley and his extended family and friends at this terrible time."
Bungaree Football Netball Club vice-president Heath Boyd said the club was devastated.
"Everyone knows Bungaree because of Danny," he said.
"The club wants to give our condolences to Frawley family, they've been a huge part of our footy family, and we're thinking of them.
"He was just a very, very nice guy."
Ballarat and District Trotting Club chief executive Paul Rowse said Frawley was a great friend of the club.
"Today we're completely shocked by what happened this afternoon," he said.
"The Frawley family is synonymous with harness racing, and our thoughts go to the family."
Frawley was on the board of Harness Racing Victoria, and had a long involvement with the sport in Ballarat.
He was an ongoing community contributor, supporting multiple causes including the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute and the Ballarat Cycle Classic.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive and former colleague of Frawley Michael Poulton said Frawley was 'compassionate, humble and simply great fun'.
"Danny's passing will leave an incredible hole in many peoples lives as he was a much loved person. To his wife Anita, daughters Chelsea, Danielle and Keely, my heart aches for them," he said.
"Danny was the CEO of the AFL Coaches Association when I worked with him from Sept 2012 to Feb 2014. Coming to work each day was an absolute joy as he was always so full of life and gave all he had to helping AFL coaches. He could make you laugh at almost anything and he had an amazing ability to connect people and make them feel special.
Danny the footballer was as hard as they come; Danny the individual, colleague and friend, was compassionate, humble and simply great fun."
Superintendent Jenny Wilson said her thoughts were with the family.
"At this stage, as normal, police are going through contacting the next of kin," she said at a press conference at Gordon Police Station.
"All in all it's another tragic event for the community."
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Police continue to investigate the crash, which occurred near Ryans Road on Old Melbourne Road in Millbrook. They refused to say if speed was a factor.
"Of course this matter will proceed to the Coroners Court and in time to come we will be conducting a thorough investigation," Superintendent Wilson said.
Police say the road is expected to be opened "within the next couple of hours".
Superintendent Wilson told The Courier it was a tough day for emergency services crews.
"The impacts of these incidents not only impact the family and community that are involved, but they impact the members involved," she said.
If you or someone you know needs support, help is available:
- headspace Ballarat 5304 4777
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Mensline Australia Line 1300 789 978
- Kids Help 1800 55 1800
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.