Close-knit family reeling from second tragic death
A FORMER Gordonvale family has been struck with its second tragedy in less than a decade after a young couple fell to their deaths off a dangerous waterfall near Cairns.
In 2010, Sherei Anderson, 32, became carer to her three young sisters who were still in primary school after their mother Kelley Anne Smith was killed in a freak motorbike crash in Townsville, where they now live, after she was hit by a truck while at traffic lights.
The three girls have now lost their second mother figure after their warm-hearted big sister and "best friend" died at Kearneys Falls in Goldsborough alongside her partner, Simon Walker, 24.
Chloe Anderson, the second oldest sister, spoke of the tight bond the siblings shared in an emotional tribute to Sherei.
"As many of you may know, the person who raised me, my sister and my best friend passed away suddenly," she said.
"Thankyou everyone for your messages and thoughts to me and my family, it certainly hasn't gone unnoticed in the past 24 hours."
Ms Anderson had just returned from a holiday in Japan, flying into Cairns last Thursday, where she was met by Mr Walker, a Townsville-based soldier at the airport.
The pair shared a passion for the outdoors and had planned to spend a few days at Goldsborough before heading back to Townsville on Sunday.
They never arrived and worried relatives raised the alarm.
The Rescue 510 helicopter was sent up on Monday afternoon, with the crew spotting two bodies in a small pool at the falls about 5pm.
Police have labelled the pairs' deaths as "a direct consequence of misadventure", and believe they had been trying to climb the steep, slippery falls last Friday morning when they slipped and fell.
The park was closed for maintenance at the time and climbing of the falls was not allowed due to the danger.
"There are stages of it where it is direct 3m cliff-type scenarios," Far North police detective Acting Inspector Ed Kinbacher said. "They've certainly made some effort to scale what is quite a dangerous precipitous bit of rock and it has ended tragically."
Their bodies were removed from the scene by helicopter yesterday. Police are calling for anyone who camped at the ground last Thursday or Friday to come forward.
The pair's clothes and shoes were found beside the falls.
Mr Walker's brother, Lincoln, posted a statement on his Facebook page:
"On behalf of the Walker family, with a shattered heart and tears in my eyes. Our youngest brother/son Simon is no longer with us. While we are shocked and filled with grief, we will post more details of his funeral at a later date," he wrote.
"I love you Simon. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten."
Simon's mum Beryl shared a photo of the pair on Facebook with the caption: "My heart".
This was not the first fatality to occur at the remote falls, with 30-year-old French tourist Frederic Andre falling to his death in November 2013 after slipping on a boulder.