‘They should be burying me’: Grieving dad’s pain after crash
A grieving father who lost two of his sons in an alleged hit-and-run crash at Wellington, in the state's central west, has been targeted by heartless bullies who've made anonymous threats to bash him in the wake of a family feud about whether the boys should be buried or cremated.
Joseph Shorey's sons Shane, 7, and Sheldon, 6, died on January 5 after a car mowed them down on Warne Street.
Mr Shorey's ex-partner and the boys mother Shayleen Frail, 34, suffered serious injuries, while two other children, aged 9 and 10, were also injured in the crash.
Now two weeks after the horrific crash, the Shorey and Frail families are unable to agree on their beloved boys final resting place, with Mr Shorey preferring a cremation while Ms Frail wants the boys to be buried in Wellington.
"I've received a couple of threats over the phone and a couple of nasty Facebook messages calling me a grub and all this, telling me to give Shayleen what she wants," Mr Shorey told The Dubbo News.
"I've received threats like 'I'm gonna bash you' and all this … 'the kids don't belong with you'.
"I just hang up on them, they're all on private numbers so you can't track them. It doesn't worry me, nothing scares me."
Mr Shorey said some trolls had accused him of spending up on a Rolex watch, new car and other jewellery in the wake of the tragedy, as donations have flowed to the crash victims through various online fundraisers.
"I've had my car for four years, I bought this watch five years ago and this chain five years ago when I separated," he said.
"Everyone's got different opinions, everyone's got different stories, people are hearing things.
"It makes you think and makes your mind full of stories and innuendo. I'm still hearing things about the day the accident happened, I just want the truth to come out, I want answers and then to close it."
Because Mr Shorey lives in Emerald in Queensland, he said he wanted Shane and Sheldon to be cremated so they could remain with both parents.
"That way we both get to have our babies with us, no matter where we move, we've got their ashes and spirit with us," he said.
"It's the most practical and sensible solution because there's a large distance between us.
"They deserve to be with both parents, not just one."
With the Shorey and Frail families unable to agree on funeral arrangements, lawyers have been called in to help resolve the dispute.
"I just wish we could come to an agreement but it's going to court now," Mr Shorey said.
"We talked the other day about the funerals but it didn't last long."
The disagreement has added to the grief and suffering Mr Shorey and the entire family have endured since the crash.
"I'm a wreck, I can't think straight, I can't do things at home … you walk around the house and just so much reminds you of them.
"Every day I have that feeling, that they're just gonna walk through the door, they'll give me a cuddle or they'll be out in the backyard playing.
"It's hard to get motivated to do anything."
Mr Shorey said he still struggled to accept the boys were gone.
"Every morning they'd give you a cuddle and say 'good morning dad, love you'.
"I miss them cuddles.
"It's hard to be at home because everything you see is something of the boys - their photos, their trophies, their school reports are still on the coffee table."
Thoughts about what happened in the lead up to the crash and memory of seeing his boys in the morgue still occupy much of Mr Shorey's mind.
"I wish I was there to protect them, to push them out of the way.
"Shane had a habit of pretending to be asleep in the mornings, when I saw him in the morgue I was like 'get up boy, stop pretending'. I was just hoping he was going to wake up with his little smile.
"I feel so empty, I've got constant chest pain, like your heart's been ripped out of you, it's hard to explain I've never felt this way before."
Since the crash, support for the Shorey family has flooded in from across Australia and in the local Emerald community.
Mr Shorey said everyone - from staff at students at the Denison State School the boys attended, to their hairdresser - had rallied behind the family.
"The principal at the school has been really good, he's been in constant contact. Same as the guidance counsellor from the school and the chaplain.
'The Emerald Eagles football club have been messaging, their Emerald Magpies Cricket Club seniors done a minute's silence and black armbands."
Mr Shorey said his focus was now on resolving the dispute about the funeral and returning to work in the coal mines, after he was laid off in December because of falling coal prices and reduced demand during the pandemic.
"Those boys were destined to be something. Shane wanted to be a copper, Sheldon wanted to be a fireman.
"They should not be where they are now, no father should have to think about burying his kids, let alone go to court to fight to have something done with his children.
"They should be burying me."
Family and friends were also shocked when the memorial to the boys caught fire on January 15.
Wellington man Jacob Donn, 25, was allegedly behind the wheel of the Holden Commodore which crashed into the Shorey boys.
He has entered no pleas to 14 charges including dangerous driving causing death, negligent driving causing death and driving unlicensed.
Mr Donn has been refused bail and returns to court on March 10.
Originally published as 'They should be burying me': Grieving dad's pain after crash