TOP FRIEND: Former Sunshine Coast man John Armstrong, who died in a tragic accident at Dalwood Falls, near Ballina.
TOP FRIEND: Former Sunshine Coast man John Armstrong, who died in a tragic accident at Dalwood Falls, near Ballina. Contributed

Mates in shock as popular Coast teacher dies from cliff jump

A SUNSHINE Coast man has drowned after jumping from a cliff into a swimming hole in northern New South Wales.

John Armstrong, 31, was at Dalwood Falls, near Ballina, when the tragedy happened on Thursday afternoon.

Police said the popular school teacher and his friends were jumping into the water from a height of about 10 metres.

Mr Armstrong jumped from a tree, hit the water and failed to surface.

Police divers were called from Sydney but it was not until 9pm Thursday that his body was located by a specialised underwater robot.

A video of the jump taken by a witness will form part of a police report for the Coroner. Mr Armstrong's best mate, Dion Guthrie, said "Johnny" always lived life to the full.

The pair had been friends since their first day of school together at Caloundra Christian College.

"If you were with Johnny, you were always having fun," Mr Guthrie said.

"Genuinely, he'd do anything for his mates.

TRAGEDY: Police inspect the scene near Ballina.
TRAGEDY: Police inspect the scene near Ballina.

"He loved life, loved hanging out with the boys."

But aside from his fun-loving nature, Mr Guthrie said he was also a "smart guy", having studied sports science at the University of the Sunshine Coast and moving on to become a high school teacher on the Gold Coast.

Mr Armstrong, who lived in Wurtulla before moving south for work two years ago, also loved his family.

His parents lived in China where they worked as missionaries and his two brothers lived in Victoria and Tasmania.

"Family was a massive thing to him, although he didn't see them all the time," Mr Guthrie said, adding that Mr Armstrong's death would leave a gaping hole in the Sunshine Coast community.

"He had all of us close mates from Wurtulla, who he surfed with and he had his professional life in teaching - everyone would say how good he was with the kids," he said.

"He was really good at AFL. He played for the Caloundra Panthers AFL club. He was a big part of their club.

"They won the premiership a few years ago with him on the team."

Mr Guthrie said news of Mr Armstrong's accident filtered through to friends, until it was confirmed by one of his mates who was with him when it happened.

Mr Armstrong's family flew into Brisbane yesterday morning to prepare for his funeral arrangements.

"Everyone thought Johnny was invincible; everyone was saying that," Mr Guthrie said.

"All you had to do was tell him he wouldn't do something and he'd do it.

"He was always jumping off stuff.

"Every weekend, if he wasn't at the surf, he was wanting to go up to some waterfall, or go jet skiing.

"He chased adrenalin; he was one of those adrenalin junkies."



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