Rising star a reminder to live life to the fullest
The family of a Taupo teen killed on New Zealand's roads is urging other youngsters to take care when driving long distance.
On Friday Liam Cradock, 17, left Mount Albert Grammar School boarding house in Auckland to enjoy a Taupo summer with his family but he never made it.
His sister Brittany said with NCEA exams all completed, Liam was eager to spend time with his friends, play some football and enjoy time with his family back in Taupo.
His mother, Karen Millar, urged other teens like her son to take extra care on long distance drives as she didn't want any other parent to experience the loss she now was.
"I know it can be hard to put an older head on a young man," Karen said.
Police are still investigating the cause of the crash on State Highway 1 west of Tirau that claimed Liam's life but his father Grant Cradock believed his son was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"The message we want to put out there is life is very short and you need to take every opportunity and if kids are driving we need to respect the road," he said.
"I can understand where his head was at. He was excited to get home."
His mum said Liam had plenty to be excited about and was on the cusp of making his mark on the world.
His prowess on the football field, backed by hours of practice, was opening up doors and he had 'hedged his bets' by focusing on his academic studies.
He had just been named a prefect for MAGS school house and, even before exams, he had passed his level 2 NCEA courses.
"His dream was to be a professional footballer," Millar said.
"His second aim was to get a scholarship to play football at an American University. His father and him were going to go over to the states when he finished school."
Liam started his football career at just three-years-old.
"The funny thing was he didn't want to go on the field. It took him a few goes but once he got on it was all he wanted to do."
In Taupo he played for many school teams and clubs.
As he matured he was selected for the Waitemata Football Club under 19s, the Taupo mens team, Ricki Herbert Academy squad and Waikato Bay of Plenty.
He also tried out for the West Ham United Academy, the Nike Academy and had travelled through Barcelona and London playing football.
"Liam always knew he was a good footballer," Cradock said.
"He worked hard for it, but he was never cocky or arrogant. He was always well grounded."
Liam would practice for hours on end. His sister Brittany would take him down to Crown Park to practice for hours.
It was that or listen to him bounce the ball off the back fence at home.
Although Liam could be a bit cheeky to his sister, she spoke of him highly and was proud of the man he was turning into. She said his time at Mount Albert Grammar School matured her younger brother.
Cradock was proud Liam had been selected for a prefect at the school house and, after his death, the family was told he was to be the head boy for the boarding school.
"I think for me his selection as a prefect after just one year at the school showed his character," he said.
Liam's Facebook page has been flooded with messages from his friends since his death.
"I know teenage boys don't usually tell people they love each other but so many are saying that," Cradock said.
"Everyone just held Liam in such high regard."
He said his son's death was a sobering reminder of how short, and precious life could be.
"You have to take every opportunity. And that's what Liam did.
"He lived his life to the full right across the board."