The best friend of a teenager killed when she and her father went on a motorbike joyride for his birthday has shared a heartbreaking tribute to the ‘beautiful soul’.
Alan, 60, and Hannah Atherton, 19, were out on a ride for his 60th on April 18 when they collided with a silver sedan on the Bruce Highway, south of Mackay, in northern at about 10.30am.
Mr Atherton died at the scene while Ms Atherton, who had been his pillion passenger, was flown to Townsville Hospital in a critical condition.
After spending 10 days fighting for her life, she passed away on Wednesday.
Ms Atherton’s best friend Shakira Bickley, who she had been visiting in Mackay before her father’s birthday, revealed she was able to tell her she loved her one final time.
Hannah Atherton, 19, is pictured with best friend Shakira Bickley.Ms Bickley posted a heartbreaking tribute to her friend after she was tragically killed in a motorbike crash
‘The loss of a best friend is nothing that I ever thought I would have to go through,’ she wrote in a heartfelt social media post.
The pair met on the school bus and soon became close friends, hanging out after class and playing AFL together.
‘Each game we would argue on how we both wanted the number 8 jersey, she would win,’ Ms Bickley said.
The pair were able to reunite in Mackay, as Ms Atherton lives in Sydney and Ms Bickley on the Gold Coast, and went out to get ice-cream on Easter Sunday – the night before the accident.
‘We drove around Mackay looking over a city we once called home.Talking about our future and personal goals,’ Ms Bickley wrote.
The teenager and her father Alan Atherton, 60, (pictured together) collided with a car while out on a motorbike for his birthday.He died at the scene
‘Saying how she can’t wait to have a big family one day and that I’ll be the ”cool auntie”.
‘We pulled up to mine and said our goodbyes and TheWebmasterStop that we will see each other very soon as she was planning to come visit me in the Gold Coast.
‘One last hug and one last ”love you” as I closed the door.As hard as it is, I’m glad this was our last conversation. I’m glad you got to hear how much I love you.’
Ms Atherton had been visiting her father in Mackay after moving from the coastal town five years ago.
Loved ones have revealed her organs will be donated.
Ms Atherton had recently moved to Sydney and was working as a fundraiser for marketing company Bua Group
A friend said Mr Atherton died ‘doing what he loved’.Pictured is his blue Harley Davidson
Ms Bickley said she hoped her friend’s organs would go ‘to a soul just as beautiful as hers’ and it was a ‘true blessing’ being able to ‘say one last goodbye at the hospital’.
‘Getting to hold your hand and seeing you at peace is something I’ll appreciate forever,’ she continued.
‘May you and your dad ride into the beautiful sunset together.’
Acting Inspector Anthony Cowan said the Athertons had been out with a group of riders on Easter Monday when tragedy struck.
He said initial investigations suggested a car travelling in the same direction stopped on the side of the road near McNeil Road at Koumala and did a U-turn in front of the motorbike.
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‘I believe there was a group of motorcycles and (the car) has given way for most of the motorcycles and they’ve conducted a U-turn and not seen the last one, is what it appears,’ he said, the reports.
The 63-year-old female driver of the sedan was taken to Mackay Base Hospital with moderate injuries.
Her four passengers – a man, 40, woman, 34, and two kids, aged five and seven – were not injured.
Police said initial reports indicated the impact of the collision caused the sedan to flip on its side, blocking the northbound lane, as members of the public rushed to render assistance.
Friends have remembered the teenager as a ‘beautiful soul’ and have revealed her organs will be donated to save other lives
Ms Atherton was airlifted to hospital in a rescue helicopter after suffering head injuries, while police closed the road in both directions to investigate the scene.
Forensic Crash Unit investigations continue and anyone with relevant dashcam footage from that area or information that could help is urged to contact police.
Inspector Cowan described the desolate stretch of highway as a ‘danger zone’ as it is notorious for accidents due to driver fatigue.
He said authorities would up patrols and improve signage following two deaths in the area this year.
‘There’s a big fatigue zone there especially coming 10 hours north of Brisbane and there’s not much around,’ he said.
‘People don’t realise they’re tired until it is too late.’
The tragedy brings the death toll on the Bruce Highway near Koumala so far this year to four after a woman and man were killed in two separate crashes.
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