Girl, 16, killed in adventure walk cliff fall
IT WAS supposed to have been an adventurous walk home for two teenage girls after seeing a friend - a cliff climb on a balmy evening.
But within minutes of starting up the North Avoca cliff on Tuesday the girls were scared and wanted to turn back, and then former Australian beach sprint champion Donnica Clarke, 16, of Terrigal, had fallen to her death.
The beautiful teenager whose parents chose her name because they liked the meaning, "a gift from God", screamed her friend's name, Rachel, as she fell.
At a press conference yesterday Tony and Kerrie Clarke praised Rachel, 16, for her bravery and risking her own safety by climbing down to reach her friend and for guiding the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in.
His daughter's death was "just a tragic accident", Tony Clarke said. "Kids are kids. We can't be with them 24/7.
"Why this? Why the road carnage over Easter? We've been blessed to have her in our lives for the time that we've had."
Donnica was a state surf lifesaving champion from the age of eight and won the Australian under-15 sprint and flag double in 2005 as an under 14-year-old.
She suffered a major ankle injury last year which forced her out of competition, but in the past week had been talking about a comeback, Mrs Clarke said.
"Surf lifesaving was the love of her life. She played school touch football and soccer. She just loved doing sports," she said.
Donnica and Rachel, who was visiting from Queensland, had been at a friend's house at Avoca Beach on Tuesday. They stopped at a North Avoca takeaway store on the way back to Terrigal where they decided to go by cliff rather than the steep Coast Road.
A preliminary police report to the Coroner said Donnica slipped within seconds of Rachel saying she was scared and did not want to go on. Donnica hit her head on a rock about 10 metres down the cliff face before falling another 40 metres to rocks at sea level.
She had a faint pulse by the time Rachel reached her. The terrified teenager phoned 000 before ringing her own mother in Queensland.
Brisbane Water Acting Superintendent Darren Bennett said police would prepare a report for the coroner.
The cliff was dangerous but "it seems to me it's not an area where that many people walk".
Donnica's grandfather, Bill Clarke, said the teenager's death was "just unbelievable".
"This time yesterday we were going about our business, and today nothing's ever going to be the same again," he said.