What should have been a celebration ended in the worst way possible
AT THE END OF EVERY SCHOOL year, thousands of high-school graduates flock to Surfers Paradise and Bali to celebrate freedom after 13 years of schooling. On Nov. 29, the parents of 18-year-old Hamish Bidgood received the call every parent fears when their child leaves for schoolies.
Their son, who had just graduated from Turramurra High School on Sydney’s upper North Shore, wouldn’t be returning home after reportedly falling to his death from a high-rise apartment in Surfers Paradise. Emergency services rushed to the apartment complex in the early hours of the morning after receiving a call saying a body had been found on the grass.
The night before, Bidgood had been drinking with friends when he was filmed in a Snapchat video shared on the social media platform. In the footage – since deleted – a friend could be heard joking, “This is the beginning of the end for Hamish Bidgood.”
At the time of press, police were yet to release the autopsy results but confirmed they were not treating Bidgood’s death as suspicious, and they believe he had been ingesting nitrous oxide after a night of drinking. Inspector Eddie Freitas from NSW Ambulance said the use of nitrous oxide could contribute to poor choices. “The biggest risk still is while you are acutely affected … that you make decisions that usually you wouldn’t make.”
Grieving friends paid tribute on social media, with one posting on Bidgood’s Facebook: “Everyone stay strong, he would want us to support each other like he would support us.”
It’s not the first tragedy of its kind to occur in Queensland. In 2011, 20-year-old Acton Beale died when he fell from a seventh-storey Brisbane balcony while undertaking a “planking” stunt. The following year, during schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast, Queensland local Isabelle Colman, 17, was killed when she fell from a 26th-floor balcony of the Chevron Renaissance apartments.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her thoughts were with Bidgood’s family and friends. “I want to encourage everyone celebrating the end of their schooling to look after themselves and each other – nothing is more important.” •