Mystery death shocks coastal community
By EMMA O'NEILL
A BRAND new pin-striped suit hangs on a door handle in Max Achurch's room at Evans Head.
Next to the suit is a shoebox containing a bright purple tie and new shiny black shoes.
Max's dad, Lee, unzipped the suit bag yesterday and shook his head.
"He'll never get to wear any of this," he said.
After suffering a suspected cardiac arrest in the early hours of Sunday morning about 200 metres from his house, Max Achurch failed to make it home and will not wear his suit to the Evans River K-12 school formal this Saturday night.
The sudden death of the vibrant 17-year-old sports star has shocked the small coastal town.
His best friend, Jake Barron, said there was never a dull moment with Max around and things simply wouldn't be the same now that he was gone.
His mother, Kim, said it still felt like Max was going to walk through the door any minute.
"He was just such a good kid, he was never in trouble," she said.
If Max did walk through the door, he would probably try to make everyone laugh, according to friend Kerryanne Eggins.
"Whenever Max answered the phone, he put on an accent and he also had this funny dance," she said.
Max's mum saw his funny dance one afternoon after walking into the garage when Max had friends around.
"He was always having friends over and was very popular. I was always telling them to turn the music down," Kim Achurch said.
Max left Evans River K-12 school at the start of the year to work full-time at Farmer Charlies, where he had been working since he was old enough to hold a job.
His manager, Luke Morrow, said Max was a great kid and a good worker. Kim also worked at Farmer Charlies, but Max would never call her 'mum' at work, he said.
Max was saving his Farmer Charlies wage to travel overseas with his cousin next year.
Lee said his son could name any flag in the world, and instead of saving for a car like most kids his age, Max was set on spreading his wings and seeing the world.
Despite his saving efforts, Max was also extremely generous. On Saturday, the day before he died, Max bought friend Brioney Tansley a skirt because her jeans had been soaked by the storm.
Brioney was still wearing the skirt yesterday when she joined friends at the spot where Max died.
Flowers and photos were tied to a pole at the site, and the letters 'M-A-X' were spelt out with plastic tubing on the school fence.
As friends and family gathered to mourn, they knew Max would just want everyone to smile.
To smile about his preference for Coon cheese, his love of lasagne, his talent on the hockey field, his love of music, his skinny jeans, his trips to the Cotton On fashion shop, his kindness, his accents and, of course, his funny dance.