Community shattered by AFL player’s shock death

Student and AFL player Blake Bailey died in a car accident on 12.11.14 on Stotts Road.
Student and AFL player Blake Bailey died in a car accident on 12.11.14 on Stotts Road. Contributed

A FAMILY is heartbroken, a football club shattered and community shaken over the tragic loss of a rising AFL star.

Blake Bailey was a laidback Mackay lad with a dry sense of humour and always up for a laugh.

And he was passionate about his footy.

The 17-year-old Mackay State High School student was killed on Wednesday night when the vehicle he was driving rolled on Stotts Rd at Racecourse.

Eastern Swans senior coach and Suns Academy mentor Brad McLaren, who coached Blake for three years, said he was "gutted" by the news.

He visited the site yesterday morning to lay a bunch of white flowers by the side of the road.

At six foot four, Blake was the kind of bloke you couldn't help but look up to, Mr McLaren said.

"(But) if he was any more laid back, he'd be lying down," he said.

"As a person, he'd do anything for you. A really good guy to have around with the younger kids as well."

The club and his team-mates were in "shock" and "disbelief".

"Absolutely shattered to be honest," Mr McLaren said. "A few of us were with him (Wednesday night) and obviously you wake up the next morning and he's not there."

Blake was "one of the most popular boys in the club" who really shone on the field in the past 12 months. He'd been a senior player all year and was also in the high performance Gold Coast Suns talent academy.

Several older players had taken him under their wing and were devastated, Mr McLaren said. "He would have gone a long way for sure," he said.

Blake and his family were weeks away from moving to the Gold Coast, where the teenager would have been able to further his football career.

"We had training last night, which he was a part of. Our first week back for the new season."

Mr McLaren said he believed Blake had completed his final high school exam on Wednesday.

"I picked him up (Wednesday night) for training and we were talking about it and he said, yeah that's it, it's done," he said.

He was "really excited" about the move.

"It's just tragic," Mr McLaren said. "To his family, he's going to be really, really, sadly missed."

Topics:  afl community crash death editors picks

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