The Cromwell community is reeling in shock at the sudden death of a 17-year-old who was recognised as a young leader with huge potential.
The death of Rachel Clark, head girl at Cromwell College this year, was believed to be because of a medical event and the matter has been referred to the coroner.
Acting Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said police were notified of her death at her Cromwell home about 5.30pm on Saturday.
Following a scene examination and after receiving the result of a postmortem yesterday, police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
St John South Island communications adviser Ian Henderson said ambulance staff and a crew from the Cromwell Fire Brigade had attended the emergency call.
''It seems to have been a medical event and she was unfortunately deceased at the scene,'' Mr Henderson said. Rachel, the youngest of Tony and Judy Clark's three children, had completed her final year at secondary school and planned to study at Otago University next year.
''We're devastated we'll never get to see her fulfil the promise she offered,'' Mr Clark said yesterday.
She worked part-time as a waitress at the Golden Gate Lodge in Cromwell for more than a year and lodge manager Glen Christiansen said she was ''just lovely - an all-rounder, a beautiful kid''.
''She always had a smile on her face and the smile was infectious.''
Rachel was ''exactly the kind of young person you hope your kids will grow up to be like''.
Her loss was devastating for her work colleagues and for the wider community, Mr Christiansen said.
Cromwell College principal Mason Stretch described her as a popular and dynamic head girl who was highly respected by staff and pupils - ''a true all-rounder''.
''Rachel's tragic loss will be deeply felt in our whole community. She was a special young woman - caring, vibrant and talented and she touched a lot of people in Cromwell.''
As well as being an astute scholar with excellence endorsements in NCEA, she was a talented and committed sportswoman, competing in netball, hockey and rowing, Mr Stretch said.
She was the student representative on the school board of trustees and was ''one tramp away from her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award''.
She was also an Otago Daily Times Class Act award winner. This initiative celebrated the excellence of young people in Otago.
''Rachel loved life and I know she was excited to be heading to university next year. It is difficult to comprehend that she is no longer with us and our thoughts go out to her family and close friends,'' Mr Stretch said. Mr Clark said his daughter was a keen young sportswoman.
''That's what's made this so hard to believe - that she's succumbed to something medical, when she's so fit and healthy.''