A teenage girl who was critically injured in a suspected hit-and-run crash near Wollongong posted a desperate Facebook message saying she was being followed and needed help in the moments before her bloodied body was found lying by the side of a road.
April-lee Gillen, 17, remains in the intensive care unit at Wollongong Hospital with critical head injuries after neighbours heard a loud bang and discovered her lying unconscious on Northcliffe Drive in Lake Heights, just south of Wollongong, around 1am on Sunday.
April-lee had posted on her Facebook account a short time before she was found: "Phones on 1 per cent walking from warrawong to berks [Berkeley] and some Asian guy just stopped me telling me to come home with him cause it's safe and I need help wtf sos".
On life support: April-lee Gillen fighting for her life after a suspected hit-and-run attack.
The message was re-posted to a Facebook page calling for justice for April-lee Gillen, and the organiser has urged people to share April-lee's status as police continue to hunt for the suspected hit-and-run driver.
Another person wrote on social media that neighbours had provided "vital video surveillance of the event" to police, and "this low life scumbag will be caught and sent to jail".
"April's father and his family have been long time friends of mine of some 40 years, and it was devastating today to find out who the victim actually was..... And all because she refused a lift from the Asian guys that stopped first and told her that she would be safer in their car than walking on the sidewalk," the person wrote.
Call for help: April-lee Gillen's last Facebook message.
April-lee's sister Kimberly wrote on Facebook that her sister was “in ICU on life support bleeding from her brain and not breathing on her own”.
“She may of (sic) been abused or a hit and run between 12.30 and 1.30,” Kimberly wrote.
“Any information please let me know or if she has taken anything. Please share”.
A woman who said she was April-Lee's cousin wrote: “I love you Cuz April Lee Gillen, please pull thru this. My prayers and thoughts are with you tonight”.
Police said Ms Gillen had suffered “extensive head injuries”.
Inspector Gordon Dunlop, from Lake Illawarra police, said detectives were investigating the possibility that she was the victim of a hit and run.
"She's still in a pretty bad way," he said.
“She is going to survive, but the extent of the injuries to her brain is still uncertain.”
Police said a number of witnesses described hearing a noise shortly before discovering the girl on the roadway.
Northcliffe Drive resident Lola Smith, told the Illawarra Mercury that she heard a "slight bang" around the time the girl was hit.
"It's awful," she said. "We haven't had anything like that along here before.
"I just hope the girl survives."
Police have urged anyone who witnessed the incident to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.