The former Young Matildas striker had left a meeting with her Illawarra Stingrays teammates at Fairy Meadow’s Fraternity Club at 9pm Wednesday night, but her car was not discovered until 8am the next morning.
Police believe she was travelling north some time after 9.30pm when her car veered off the road and hit a tree about four kilometres past the F6 turn-off.
The Matildas captain, Melissa Barbieri, paid tribute to Connor on her Facebook page. ”Women’s football has lost a bright star, RIP Ash Connor … Heaven must have needed a striker. Gone too soon.”
Illawarra Stingrays club president and friend Rob McKie said his last conversation with Ashleigh on the night she died was when he said to her “Ash, be careful driving home.”
“She grinned at me and said ‘Rob, I’m not on my motorbike, I’m in the car’ before heading off,” Mr McKie said.
The notorious road has a 100km/h speed limit between Bulli Tops and Appin. It has a number of sweeping bends and falls away sharply at the edge.
Mr McKie described Ashleigh Connor as a “target player with a lethal shot”. He also spoke of her bubbly personality.
“She had a cheekiness about her. She got her fair share of yellow cards,” he said. “But we knew what we were getting with Ash, and we loved every minute of it.”
We celebrate sporting talent because it is so rare. It is always tragic when someone so young with that special talent is taken from us before they got the chance to reach their potential.