‘We have a lot of very traumatised kids’: death casts a pall on schoolies

A crowd gathers at the scene of the fatal accident. Schoolies console each other outside the Chevron Renaissance.
Nanjing Night Net

Schoolies console each other outside the Chevron Renaissance.

Isabelle Colman fell from a Gold Coast highrise this morning.

Schoolies leave the Chevron Renaissance at Surfers Paradise after a teenage girl plunged to her death from a balcony at the hotel.

Traumatised schoolies are cutting short their end-of-year celebrations after a 17-year-old girl fell to her death from a Gold Coast balcony.

Police today identified the dead girl as 17-year-old Isabelle Colman from The Gap in Brisbane’s west. She was a student at Mt St Michaels College at Ashgrove.

Isabelle fell to her death from a balcony on the 26th floor of the Chevron Renaissance’s third tower onto the fifth floor pool deck about 9.30pm.

Police say the teenager was alone in the unit when the incident happened and that there was no inappropriate behaviour on the balcony before the fall. They have confirmed the death was ”non-suspicious”.

Her school mates who have been on the Gold Coast have gathered at Circle on Cavill apartments, which neighbours the tower where Isabelle fell.

The girls, many of whom are wearing their year 12 jerseys, were consoled by Red Frogs volunteers

A sombre mood has washed over the Gold Coast as young teenagers, who were just last night celebrating the end of their high school years, now struggle to come to terms with the death of their peer.

”Everyone’s devastated. Everyone wants to go home,” schoolie Zara Simon told Fairfax Radio 4BC.

”I’m going home now. I’m trying to get my bag and we’re going.

”We’re supposed to be going home tomorrow, but no, most people are leaving today.

”Schoolies is supposed to be holiday; it’s supposed to be fun, but someone died.

“It’s terrible.”

Ms Simon said her friend, who saw Isabelle fall to her death, was ”pretty shaken up”.

”He’s not very good at all,” she said.

Another schoolie, known only as Kelly, said her friend also witnessed the incident.

”One of my friends was actually on our balcony when it happened … it was just horrific,” she said.

”They just wanted to get out. They didn’t know what to do. She’s in shock.”

Kelly said hundreds of schoolies gathered outside the Chevron towers last night, with many sitting on the ground shaking in shock, as news of the death spread rapidly through Facebook and Twitter.

”And everyone was just sitting here shaking. No one knew what was happening. It was really scary,” she said.

”Our parents are texting us asking if it’s us … everyone just didn’t know who it was or what was happening down there.

”We’re just shaken up.

”I want to go home today. It’s the worst.”

Assistant police commissioner Graham Rynders said he could not comment on whether the incident was an accident, other than to say the teenager’s death, which was witnessed by six people, was not suspicious.

He said the family of the girl was deeply traumatised and were asking for privacy.

‘‘[This has] put a very dark cloud over this schoolies,’’ he said.

Gold Coast Schoolies Advisory Group chairman Mark Reaburn said teenagers were wandering the streets of Surfers Paradise this morning looking shocked and dazed.

”Its very solemn here. You can see it with kids walking around now, it’s very solemn,” he said.

”Schoolies for the kids has turned from a celebration to a very traumatic time. It’s going to be a very difficult day and night.

”We’ve had a lot of very traumatised kids. It’s an absolute tragedy for family and friends – and it’s impact across all of the kids – it’s been devastating.”

Mr Reaburn said the Red Frogs chaplaincy service was counselling teenagers last night and would continue to do so throughout the day.

”Our welfare network swung into action last night,” he said.

”We’d certainly say to parents if they’re concerned for their kids by all means come and collect them, but use the welfare network that we can offer.”

Queensland police inspector Pat Swindells told reporters last night it was a horrible end to an otherwise good start to schoolies.

“Young people who’ve come to Surfers Paradise have been exemplary in their behaviour and this is a very tragic incident that has occurred during what has been a very good week.”

The building was locked down after the fall and hundreds of schoolies were evacuated onto the street.

Police are preparing a report for the coroner.

In the wake of the incident, police are appealing for those schoolies who are staying on the Gold Coast to enjoy their last night at the event safely.Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

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