TRIBUTES were paid today to a teenager who died after plunging almost 100ft from a cliff on the Aberdeenshire coast.
Cameron Smithies, 15, of Cruden Bay, died in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Sunday after being rescued on Saturday from the foot of the cliffs below the spectacular ruins of Slains Castle near the village.
He was airlifted to hospital by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth in an operation involving coastguard teams from Peterhead and Fraserburgh, and the Peterhead lifeboat.
It is understood the schoolboy, a keen canoeist and a member of Peterhead Canoe Club, had been climbing on the cliffs when he fell into a deep gully.
Members of Cameron’s family and friends were among those who posted tributes to him on social networking sites.
His aunt, Caroline, said on Facebook: “RIP Cameron Scott Smithies you were the best nephew and taken from us far to soon rest easy now xxxx.”
She added that Cameron’s smile “smile and laugh could light up a room”.
His sister Morgan posted: “R.I.P. to my amazing brother he will be better in heaven xx.”
Daryn Hubbucks, the chairman of Peterhead Canoe Club, posted: “Cameron was a cheeky wee monkey with a big heart and zest for life. He was just starting out in life and getting his kayak feet. Cameron was just up for anything … he would be 16 on Thursday.”
Malcolm Brown, another club member, said: “This is really devastating, sad news. He was a likeable, friendly guy and fun to have along on the river trips. Sorry for the loss of such a young star.”
Cameron was a pupil at Ellon Academy and Tim McKay, the secondary school’s headteacher said: “Cameron was a happy boy with a wide circle of friends. He was very popular, enjoying lots of banter with his classmates.”
He added: “Cameron worked hard in all his studies but particularly enjoyed the more practical subjects at school. He had decided to stay on next year before taking up an apprenticeship after that. Staff and pupils are devastated by his death. ”
Stephen Smith, a councillor for Peterhead South and Cruden, said: “This is an absolute tragedy for the family. The cliffs at Slains Castle have had an unfortunate history over many years.
“The castle is a huge draw for tourists and walkers, but it is an unmanaged ruin and I would appeal to visitors to be careful, particularly so at this time of year when the grass can be slippery.”
Police Scotland are continuing their investigations into the schoolboy’s tragic death.
But PC Matthew Roger said: “Whilst a popular attraction, I would like to highlight the particularly hazardous nature of the ruins at Slains Castle.”
Bram Stoker is reputed to have written at least part of his Gothic horror classic Dracula while staying nearby.