Heartbreak for friends as teenager dies in hospital after beach mishap
Agnes Chuah was happiest when surrounded by mates on an adventure.
So, on the last day of the school holidays, the outgoing 17-year-old from Avondale College leaped at a trip to Cornwallis beach in West Auckland.
Her best friend came along - they were never far apart - and so did her boyfriend.
The Weekend Herald has chosen not to name the teenagers directly involved.
"He always said she [best friend] was the third person in their relationship," said close friend Hannah Witherspoon, 17.
But one silly moment changed it all.
Agnes was perched on the boot of a car with a mate when her best friend started the engine. For whatever reason, the pair didn't get off.
As the car moved, they tumbled to the ground. The boy scraped his shoulder; Agnes fell awkwardly, landing on her head.
Her boyfriend came running from the beach while others scrambled for cellphone coverage to call an ambulance.
Agnes - known for her bright, confident nature - was taken to Auckland City Hospital in a critical condition.
She had extensive internal and external bruising to her brain, and doctors performed emergency surgery to remove a blood clot and piece of skull, said relative Frank Liew.
Agnes remained unconscious but stable, and for a few days seemed to be recovering.
"If you came into the room and held her hand, her heart rate would go up or she would grab on to your hand," Mr Liew said.
A stream of friends and family sat at her side, chatting and holding her hand.
"We tried to stay positive," said Hannah, who credited Agnes with making her a stronger person.
"She gave me my backbone as a person, would tell me to toughen up but at the same time really care about what I had to say."
Agnes's best friend and boyfriend brought in matching friendship bracelets the trio had worn and slipped theirs on to her wrist.
But last Friday - seven days after the accident - came devastating news.
"The doctor told us that night they were fairly certain the swelling had stopped blood circulation to the brain," said Mr Liew. "They told us to prepare for the worst."
Avondale College principal Brent Lewis was there when Agnes died the next day.
"It was a privilege to be there but a sad one," he said.
Mr Lewis told his staff it could have happened to anyone.
"I said, 'Who in this room can't look back at an incident, a judgment they made while driving, out with their friends, as a youngster, at the beach ... where but for a hair's breadth it might have gone a different way'."
Mr Lewis said Agnes was an extremely bright young woman, academically and personally.
"She was an academically accelerant student who got tremendous results," he said.
"She was also a delightful, outgoing, social young woman who had a very strong network of friends right across the school."
Today, hundreds of friends and family will pack the Avondale College performing arts centre to celebrate Agnes's life.
A photo slideshow - with snaps from infancy to her teenage years - will be played to a version of Use Somebody by American rock band Paramore.
"She was crazy about them," said Hannah. "That was another thing about Agnes, she was passionate about music."
More than 800 people have joined a group on the Facebook social networking site, titled "Forever Loved and Never Forgotten".
Police investigating the accident have not decided whether charges will be laid.
Sergeant Stu Kearns, of the Waitemata serious crash unit, said the safety message was clear.
"It speaks for itself, with the needless injury of one person and the death of another."