UPDATE (5:30 p.m.)—The St. Paul’s School for Girls community was shocked this morning to learn that one of its students died in a boating accident on Tuesday while on a school-sponsored exchange trip in Australia.
Cameron O’Neill-Mullin, a sophomore at St. Paul’s, was on a boating outing with her host family at the time of the accident. A speed boat was pulling O'Neill-Mullin and two others on an inner tube that collided with a tree.
According to The Courier Mail in Australia, "Two teenage girls were killed and their friend is fighting for her life in a Brisbane hospital after a tube-boat ride accident at a recreational water park.
"The three friends were lying on a floating tube being towed by a speed boat at the Goondiwindi Natural Heritage water park ... when they hit a tree on an island in the centre of the waterway about 3 p.m. Two of the girls died at the scene," the article states.
O’Neill-Mullin has been enrolled at schools within the St. Paul’s campus for “as long as she was in school,” said Monica Gillespie, the head of the St. Paul’s School for Girls.
“It’s very heavy hearts today, shock, grief and sadness,” she told Patch earlier this afternoon. “She was an extraordinary scholar, athlete and overall member of our community—just an absolutely extraordinary young woman.
“We are supporting the family by giving them privacy and space to grieve as a family,” she continued.
Gillespie would not detail which sports O'Neill-Mullin played, but Patch wrote about O'Neill-Mullin's soccer goal against Friends School in Baltimore in October. Patch reader Mark Henderson captured her goal on video (see above).
More than 4,800 people have joined the “R.I.P. Paris and Cameron” Facebook group as of 5:20 p.m. on Wednesday. The group started early on Tuesday when word of the accident that killed Paris and Cameron began to circulate. The page's description reads: "You will be missed by everyone around."
Friends and classmates have flooded the group’s wall with messages of love and support.
“Rest in Peace Cameron & Paris ♥ Cameron, the community of spsg amidst mourning speaks the kindest words of you,” wrote Hannah B. Rice. “You were so darling in amnesty and your bubbly presence will be missed in the halls. You will always be treasured and never forgotten.”
Julie Gill, another group member wrote, “Rest in Peace Cameron and Paris ♥ Cameron, you are an amazing person and have impacted so many people. You are a hero to many and will never be forgotten. I love you Camera/Kitty Kitty Cameron. Paris, I have heard so many good things about you ... especially that you are beautiful on the inside and out. See you both on the other side ♥ Rest in Peace, we love you."
Family friend and County Delegate Susan Aumann also expressed her sympathies on the group's Facebook wall.
"Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Tricia, Tim and Kylie. Such an incomprehensible tragedy for both families," Aumann wrote.
Grief counselors from St. Paul’s as well as other schools within the Association of Independent Maryland Schools have volunteered their time to help students through the tragedy. The school canceled all after-school activities on Tuesday.
“We’re all here for the kids,” Gillespie said.
About 420 students are enrolled at the St. Paul’s School for Girls, located on Falls Road in Brooklandville. The school teaches girls from fifth through 12th grades.