Tragedy hits with triple fatality
JARETH Parris, Jake Todd and Mitchell Black were three young mates who were supposed to be having the time of their lives.
But what began as a celebration for the trio turned to tragedy when the utility they were travelling in struck a tree on a rural road near Cannonvale on Saturday morning.
The previous night Jareth and Jake had been celebrating the end of their schooling journey at the Proserpine State High School graduation.
Two of the boys were registered for schoolies celebrations at Airlie and in the morning the three mates travelled from a property at Paluma Rd, Woodwark, into town.
Soon afterwards, however, they drove back to the Paluma Rd house to collect some personal belongings.
What happened next has left Airlie Beach Schoolies and the entire community reeling.
The three young men, whose lives were only beginning, were killed when the Holden utility they were in smashed into a tree.
The boys were well known at Proserpine State High School, which Mitchell also attended until the end of Year 10.
Principal Chris Roff said their deaths had left the school community in shock.
"They just finished school. It should've been a time of celebration. Instead it's a time of profound sadness," he said.
"It was very sad to shake their (Jareth's and Jake's) hands at the graduation on Friday and then they passed away on Saturday."
School captain Ben O'Leary said students were doing it tough after learning of the tragedy.
"Everyone knew the boys somehow and are just sad that they are gone," he said.
"We're just trying to stay with our mates as much as possible."
There was also an outpouring of grief on a Facebook site dedicated to the memory of the three young men.
"Taken too young", "Truly missed" and "So sad" were among the comments posted to the site, which had more than 1000 likes late yesterday.
The Police Forensic Crash Unit is investigating what caused the crash.
Acting Inspector Steve O'Connell, of Whitsunday Police, said nobody witnessed the crash, which happened at 11.15am on Paluma Rd.
However, many nearby residents ran out of their homes after hearing a loud, distinctive bang.
"People living nearby heard the crash and came running down their driveways and found the vehicle on its roof when they got there," Acting Insp O'Connell said.
One of them was a doctor, however, there was nothing he could do, he said.
Schoolies, friends and teachers have held private gatherings to grieve for the loss of the three young men.
Mr Roff said counselling would be offered to students this week to help them come to terms with the tragedy.