A teen tragedy

By CRAIG McTEAR and ANN-MARIE MAY

GETTING his licence and a car had been big goals for Toormina teenager Tristan Roach.

Tragically, the 17-year-old will no longer be able to enjoy either following his death on the Pacific Highway north of Halfway Creek on Tuesday.

The P1 licence holder was driving his three mates home from the Gold Coast in his Hyundai Excel when he crossed to the wrong side of the road and slammed into a gum tree at 10am, only 40 minutes from home.

One of the passengers told police at the scene they'd left the Gold Coast at 6am that day, and that Tristan had swerved to miss a kangaroo when the accident happened.

For the past nine months, Tristan had been an assistant in the fruit and vegetable section at Woolworths' Park Avenue store, where he worked part-time.

He completed his four-hour shift on Monday evening, and he was due to start again at 4pm on Tuesday.

Tristan's grief-stricken mother phoned the supermarket on Tuesday to tell management the dreadful news.

Tristan's front-seat passenger was Zoe Morris, 14, from Toormina, who suffered serious head and arm injuries.

She was airlifted from the scene to Coffs Harbour Health Campus and was later transferred to Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital, and later, the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

She was in intensive care overnight Tuesday and placed in a general ward yesterday, where her condition was listed as stable.

The back seat passengers, Nathan Williams, 17, from Toormina, and Lauren Mathews, 14, from Boambee East, sustained only minor injuries. They were taken to the Coffs Harbour Health Campus emergency department and were later discharged.

Woolworths store manager Michael O'Shea said his employ- ees were 'devastated' to learn about Tristan's death.

"He was a pretty lively guy who was full of life," Mr O'Shea said.

"He was pretty popular with people in his department."

Mr O'Shea said store employees were able to access counselling if needed.

Tristan was yesterday described by friends and workmates as outgoing, who had a terrific sense of humour, and liked a good laugh.

His former principal at Toormina High, Liz Donnan, said the last time she spoke to him, his biggest aim in life had been to get a car.

"Getting his licence and a car was so important to him. It is such a tragedy," Ms Donnan said.

She said Tristan, who left in Year 11 last year, was 'a lovely boy' who would be missed.

"My heart goes out to his family ? I know how much they love him," Ms Donnan said.

Zoe Morris and Lauren Mathews are current Toormina High students.

Ms Donnan said her thoughts were with those girls and support would be offered to them and other students.

"Once school returns the staff will be informed and the school counsellor will be on hand to offer support. Additional counselling will be available if required," Ms Donnan said.

Acting Inspector Steve Black said if there had been witnesses to the smash, they were yet to come forward.

If you can help accident investigators, contact Grafton Police on 6642 0222.



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