VALE: Lee Gunton, 22, was killed in a car crash near Witta on Friday night.
VALE: Lee Gunton, 22, was killed in a car crash near Witta on Friday night. Claire Letitia Reynolds

Mate's tribute to 'free spirit' killed in hinterland crash

LEE Gunton was a free spirit with an infectious love of life and an unwavering devotion to family and friends.

Those were the words of Zach Smith as he paid tribute to Lee, his friend of eight years, who died in a crash on the Sunshine Coast hinterland at 8.40pm Friday.

The 22-year-old Conondale man was the passenger in a silver sedan that lost control, left Maleny-Kenilworth Rd and crashed into trees.

Such was the impact, the sedan was split into two.

Zach went to Maleny State High School with Lee and the two remained in contact despite life at times taking them down different paths.

Zach said his mate would always be there for him to offer advice and provide a lift during tough times.

"He just loved to help his mates. He was always there for us," a shattered Zach said yesterday.

"If you needed help, he'd help you out, no questions asked.

"And his bright outlook on life would always make you feel better.

"He was just down to earth and full of love for his mates."

 

Police described the crash scene as
Police described the crash scene as "harrowing”. The sedan involved was split in two. 7 News Sunshine Coast

Zach said Lee's death "still didn't feel real", but he knew it was only a matter of time.

"It's just so hard to fathom. I'm still trying to come to grips with it," Zach said.

"It probably won't hit me until we have to say goodbye."

Zach said Lee was extremely close to his family, especially his brother Adam and sister Hannah.

He was also well loved by so many in the Maleny and Conondale communities, which was evident on Saturday night when friends and loved ones gathered to celebrate Lee's life.

"It was spur of the moment, but we knew we had to do something," Zach said.

"We just wanted to make sure everyone was OK, and to share some good stories about Lee.

"He had such a positive influence on so many people... this is going to hit a lot of us pretty hard.

"We're all definitely going to miss him."

Speaking from the crash site on Friday night, Senior Sergeant Mick Buckley said it was a "harrowing scene".

"(The driver) overtook a number of cars and then left the roadway and impacted a number of trees," he said.

"The car's subsequently been split in two.

"It's not one we come across all that often."

The driver, a 39-year-old Nambour man, was not hurt.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.



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