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Friend pays tribute to one-of-a-kind
The West Australian

Born less than a day apart at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Shona Leigh Caley and Amber Channon seldom strayed far from one another's side.

Ms Channon talked to Ms Caley on Sunday night just hours before a tragic car accident along a lonely stretch of Brookton Highway claimed the 19-year-old's life and that of her unborn child.

The Corrigin friends joked and laughed on the phone as they had since kindergarten, reflecting on Ms Caley's baby shower the previous day and how excited she was about becoming a mother for the first time.

"All she ever wanted to do was be a mum," Ms Channon said.

"She was great with kids. They were all she ever talked about."

Bond: Shona and mum Jen Higgins. Photo: Facebook


Through tear-soaked eyes and with boyfriend Jacob protectively clasping her hand, Ms Channon yesterday paid tribute to her stubborn, "one of a kind" best friend.

She told how Ms Caley had babysat "half of Corrigin" and intended to get a diploma in early childhood studies once her daughter was born.

"She was probably the most caring and loyal person I've ever met," Ms Channon said.

"Shona didn't care what anyone else thought - she did what she wanted to do, no matter what.

"She's just always been there."

The tight-knit Wheatbelt community of Corrigin awoke to gloomy skies yesterday.

As the sun finally broke the early morning cloud cover, sombre shire staff drew two flags to half-mast outside the council chambers, a tribute to the two lives lost just 24 hours earlier.

On the main street, stunned locals swapped versions of the tragedy over their morning coffee.

One man recalled how Ms Caley's fiance Alex Riley, 18, had been reluctant to get his driver's licence after he was a passenger in a fatal crash which claimed the life of friend Scott Cropper-James three years ago.

On that Saturday night in 2011, the force of the impact ripped the car's body in half, trapping Mr Cropper-James and Mr Riley, then 16, in the wreck.

Mr Riley was rescued and taken to hospital but Mr Cropper-James died at the scene.

On Monday, Mr Riley was at the wheel when the Mitsubishi Lancer he and Ms Caley were travelling in veered off the road and slammed into a tree.

He is believed to have suffered minor injuries and was back in Corrigin yesterday.

Out the front of Mr Riley's father's home glazing business on Murphy Street a sign read: "Closed for a week. No work calls please."

Loving couple: Alex Riley and Shona Leigh Caley. Photo: Facebook

Police have asked for witnesses to Monday's crash to come forward.

Insp. Dominic Wood said the accident was an absolute tragedy.

"We've spoken to witnesses but knowing the volume of traffic on Brookton Highway at that sort of time, it's highly likely there will be some other motorists or members of the public who may have seen the vehicle involved in the crash who may have not come forward," Insp. Wood said.

"We would urge anyone who saw this vehicle travelling about 20km from Brookton on the Brookton Highway to come forward. It's very important we get all possible witnesses."