Shannen Riggien, teen killed in tragic fall

on Posted in Australia.

Shannen Riggien,teen killed in tragic fall.


The Sydney Morning Herald

Michael Mc Gowan,Dan Proudman

Janruaruy 20,2015


Tragic accident: Shannen Riggien.

Tragic accident: Shannen Riggien. Photo: Supplied

A split-second decision has turned to heartbreak after the tragic death of a teenager. 


Shannen Riggien, 17, from Kurri Kurri in the NSW Hunter region, died in John Hunter Hospital on Monday morning after suffering catastrophic brain injuries when she fell from the back of a moving vehicle at East Maitland after a teenage movie night.

She once said that we were her greatest discovery, but really she was ours

Family and friends are mourning the loss of the Maitland All Saints College year 12 student, known for her "huge smile and bubbly personality", and remembered as the "sunshine of our lives".

Her devastated father, James Riggien snr, told the Newcastle Herald that to know his daughter was to love her.

"You could not help but love her because her selflessness and unconditional love radiated from her big brown eyes," he said. "She was such a soft, gentle soul."

On Monday, the Newcastle Herald reported Shannen had been standing on the rear of a vehicle on Friday night after a movie night with friends when she fell. 

Crash experts will investigate what occurred immediately before the accident, including if the driver had got behind the wheel before Shannen and another teenage girl decided to jump on the rear. It is understood the car travelled less than 50 metres down Victoria Street before the driver performed a U-turn, where Shannen lost her balance and fell.

It appears her head hit the kerb and she suffered severe head injuries.

She was kept on life support before she succumbed to her injuries about 7.30am on Monday.

Crash investigators have yet to interview the driver, but Mr Riggien said there was"no animosity" from his family.

"We as a family would like to reach out to everyone that was there and extend our love and support to them as well," he said. Shannen was born in South Africa, lived in Ireland and moved with her family to Singleton in 2006, before eventually settling in Kurri Kurri.

"Just before moving to Australia, she watched a National Geographic program on the world's top-10 deadliest animals," Mr Riggien said.

"I will never forget her face when she looked at me and asked 'Is this Australia the one you are taking us to? Are you serious? Everything there wants to kill you'."

Known as a sporty and musically gifted teenager with a love of religion, she had hoped to spend a gap year in Sweden after finishing year 12 before studying to become a music teacher. 

An active member of the Generate Church in Singleton and Crossroads Church in Maitland, she was known among friends as "mum" for always being the one to organise youth getaways and keep her friends "safe and on track". 

"This is what makes the circumstances of her accident and resultant death such an unfortunate event," Mr Riggien said. "The accident happened with most of her friends present and must be devastating to this very close group of beautiful young people.

"It is always a sad thing when a life gets taken so young. 

"For us, it's even worse since she was such a soft, gentle soul."

In a joint statement, friends of the teenager expressed their hurt at losing Shannen.

"Shannypoo was every bit of goodness in the world and the sunshine of our lives. She had the most contagious smile and we have infinite love for her and she will be in our hearts forever," they said.

"She once said that we were her greatest discovery, but really she was ours."

Gary Morton, the senior pastor of Crossroads Church in Maitland where Shannen attended youth group also paid his respects, saying Shannen was "a beautiful girl who really lit up the room when she entered".

"She was greatly liked and a lovely girl, it's a tragedy," he said.

Shannen is survived by her five brothers - Dafydd, Duncan, Frank, Alexander and James jnr - her mother, Shirley Wilson, and Mr Riggien snr.

 braininjurycenterlogosmall Read about the Human Brain                braininjurycenterlogosmall Brain Games