Jayden Morrissey sent his parents this photo from One Mile Beach at Port Stephens on Saturday morning.IT was Saturday morning when Mark Morrissey received a text message with an image of the beaming smile of his second-eldest son, Jayden.
He was hanging out with mates on the popular Port Stephens strip of sand called One Mile Beach.
By 4.15pm, when he hadn’t heard again from the 15-year-old, Mr Morrissey sent his son a text like so many parents before: ‘‘Are you still alive?’’
Jayden was probably too busy in the surf and on the sand with his mates to get straight back to his dad.
But within an hour, a team of six paramedics and a doctor would start a 70-minute battle to save the popular Thornton teenager’s life.
Jayden was struck by lightning during a storm that had silently rushed over the beach’s southern headland and caught more than 100 beachgoers with nowhere to run.
The medical team lost their battle.
‘‘He could have been five metres up the beach, it could have been any of the other kids that were standing alongside him,’’ Mr Morrissey said on Sunday.
‘‘He did die doing what he loved best – he loved the beach – but he certainly had plenty more journeys in his life.
‘‘He didn’t deserve this.’’
Jayden’s parents Mark and Peta Morrissey at home on Sunday.
Mr Morrissey had dropped his son, the second eldest of four and a year9 student at Francis Greenway High School, up to One Mile Beach on Friday to enjoy a weekend with close friends.
They had had a laugh a minute at the caravan park on Friday night and returned to the beach first thing Saturday morning as the heat started to warm up the sand.
They remained for most of the day before the storm cells drifted in without warning and caught everyone unaware.
Jayden and his friends were well clear of the water when the lightning struck.
‘‘We need people to understand he was not in the water when the storm hit,’’ Mr Morrissey said.
‘‘Police said there was over 100 people on the beach.
‘‘There was no warning of the storm, it came straight over the hill, they didn’t have time to react.
‘‘They were where their towels were and [a friend of the group] turned around to call another two kids out of the water and as he turned he saw Jayden drop to the ground holding his chest.’’
Mr Morrissey, wife Peta, and their three other sons, Brodi, 19, Jarryd, 11, and Logan, 8, have been left devastated.
But although they are searching for answers, they need their friends to know that no one was to blame.
‘‘[The adult friend] will never forgive himself and that is what we need people to understand – there is no blame to be levelled here, there is no hard feelings, it was just a freak accident,’’ Mr Morrissey said.
‘‘I know people can never forgive themselves but you can’t wrap your kids up in cotton wool.
‘‘If he wasn’t up there, he would have been at Nobbys. He would have been at the beach somewhere.’’
Mr Morrissey said his son gave up rugby league several years ago to become a referee and was due to play in state touch football titles at Penrith later this week.
Instead, his family will be facing the worst week imaginable.
‘‘He never gave me an ounce of grief,’’ Mr Morrissey said. ‘‘He was the best kid you could ever ask for.
‘‘He had a cheeky grin, he was quick-witted.
‘‘All of the tributes on Facebook all said the same thing.’’
School friend Emmalee O’Brien questioned how ‘‘such a beautiful soul’’ could be taken so early.
‘‘Really hasn’t sunk in that I won’t be sitting next to you at school on Monday in class,’’ she wrote.
Jayden’s football club, the Thornton Beresfield Bears, also paid their respects. ‘‘It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the sudden death of Jayden Morrissey,’’ the club posted on its Facebook page.
‘‘Our thoughts, prayers and sincerest condolences to family, friends and all who are affected.’’
Jayden is the second teenage player from the club to die in less than a fortnight. Harry Hofman, 19, died suddenly from a ruptured spleen on October 21.
Jayden Morrissey was killed after being struck by lightning. Photo: supplied
By TOM DECENT
FIFTEEN-year-old Jayden Morrissey, who attended Francis Greenway High School,was killed after being struck by lightningat One Mile Beach in Port Stephens while hanging out with two school friends.
Friends and family have paid tribute to the year 9 student, who was an avid footballer and referee who loved the beach. They have remembered him as a polite and cheerful boy.
“I really can’t believe it, to think I was just with him on Friday and texting him a few hours before he passed away breaks my heart,” Emmalee O’Brien, a school friend of Jayden’s, told Fairfax Media.
“When I heard the news I was absolutely shattered, it still feels like a nightmare and I’m going to go to school on Monday and I’ll walk into class and he will be sitting there waiting for me.
“He had such a beautiful soul and always put people before him. Jayden was always the first kid to stick up for me when I was getting picked on and always was cheering me up when I was down.”
One Mile Beach, Port Stephens.
Dozens of people paid their respects on social media to Jayden.
“The Maitland Pickers Rugby League Club would like to send theirdeepest & most heart felt condolences to Mark Morrissey and his family and friends with the tragic loss of there son Jayden Morrissey yesterday,” the MaitlandPickersRugbyLeagueClub posted on their Facebook page. “Our thoughts, prayers and sincerest condolences to family, friends and all who are affected.”
“No one will ever forget you mate such a stand out great guy,” Jack Cunningham wrote on a photo, while Kristy Bashford said: “You will be greatly missed Jayden, you were a great kid xxx,” Kristy Bashford wrote on a friend’s status update.
Jayden Morrissey, from Facebook