Shock as girl, 17, collapses and dies

THIS is the last picture of teenager Rachel Heather, taken hours before she collapsed and died in the street from a mystery illness.

THIS is the last picture of teenager Rachel Heather, taken hours before she collapsed and died in the street from a mystery illness.

Her distraught parents have described their heartache of losing a daughter who was "one-in-a-million."

Writtle College student Rachel, 17, collapsed and died at the bottom of Mashiters Hill, Collier Row just before 9.30pm on Sunday evening.

She had taken the picture of herself earlier in the day as part of a college project.

Initial post mortem examination results have so far failed to pinpoint a cause of death.

However, parents Paul, 49, and Ann, 47, revealed their daughter had been suffering a series of blackouts for the last six years, which medics suspected was linked to an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia.

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The teenager was returning from a date with her boyfriend and was just a short walk from her Saffron Road home when a passer-by saw her crash to the pavement.

He alerted neighbour Jackie Horner, 44, who phoned an ambulance.

The pair carried out mouth-mouth and CPR under instruction from the 999 operator until medics arrived.

Jackie said: "She had stopped breathing and I did what anyone else would have done. I just feel devastated for her family."

Paul and Ann said of their only child: "She was always very garrulous, very loving, she always loved life.

"She charmed people; she could go into a room of people she didn't know and within seconds people would be drawn to her.

"I know people always say this about their child, but she really was one-in-a-million."

The tragic student had just started her second year of an art and design course in Writtle College, Chelmsford, and was already scouting out design courses in various universities, in the hope of one day becoming a fashion designer.

A police spokesman said Rachel's death was not being treated as suspicious.