Young, in love — and taken too soon
He was the basketball-playing maths whiz, whose sense of humour both confused and delighted. She was the shy, animal lover who was a force to be reckoned with.
But the young couple's 2½-year love story came to a tragic end on a notorious stretch of road in the Adelaide Hills on Tuesday afternoon.
The car the Eastern Fleurieu School Year 12 students were travelling in collided with another vehicle on Long Valley Rd, Gemmells, about 4.40pm.
The driver of the other car - a 31-year-old teacher from their school - sustained minor injuries.
But 17-year-old Hayden, of Callington, and his 18-year-old girlfriend Mikayla, of Strathalbyn, were not so lucky, sadly dying at the scene.
In the wake of their devastating loss, Hayden and Mikayla's heartbroken families have bravely opened up about the "inseparable" couple.
Mikayla's family, including mother Kaye, father Frank, brothers Luke and William, sister Nikita and grandmother Annie, issued a statement to The Advertiser paying a loving tribute to their daughter, sister and granddaughter.
They described Mikayla as "independent, strong-willed (and) passionate".
"(She was) very dedicated to the things she was most passionate about such as soccer, animals, family," they said.
The family said Mikayla was "very shy and extremely private" with high standards and a passion for animals.
"To be in Mikayla's inner circle, you had to be someone who had gained her trust and then the young girl those people got to see was a force to be reckoned with," they said.
"Mikayla had extremely high standards for herself and was very health-conscious.
"(She was) an animal lover and had made her own decisions with the major choice in her young life was becoming a vegan."
Soccer was Mikayla's life and as a gifted player, she competed at an elite level.
"She refereed, coached and played at many different high representative and state levels including playing for FFSA in Fiji in 2015 and 2016," the family said.
And the young woman was a budding entrepreneur, whose business venture was just starting to take off.
"Mikayla had recently started her own business venture and was extremely excited when a shop offered to stock her handmade keychains," the family said.
However, her ultimate career goal was to join the South Australian police force.
"Mikayla had already gained pre-entry at Flinders University for a Bachelor in Animal Behaviour and also recently attended a police recruitment information session as she wanted to become a dog handler for SA Police," they said.
The family said they would miss Mikayla's "laughter, her smile (and) her 120 per cent passion for life and everyone involved in it".
Hayden's cousin Amity Richardson, 17, said to those unfamiliar to him, Hayden was a "quiet" young man, but to his friends and family he was "funny, quirky and cheeky".
"(He) always used to tell jokes but spoke really quickly and then giggled," she said.
"No one could understand what the joke was but everyone laughed because he was just so funny.
"He was very quick-witted and would make light of situations, always making people smile."
Amity, who was neighbours with Hayden and a sister-like figure to him, said her cousin enjoyed playing basketball for the Eastern Hills Basketball Association and riding quadbikes.
She said Hayden, his father Mark, 57, and sister Aurelia, 15, would periodically travel to Kingston to ride on the sand dunes.
"He loved his family," Amity said. "He loved Mikayla (and) he loved the family dogs.
"He was also very protective of his little sister Aurelia.
"She was like his little dolly when she was born. He just doted on her."
Hayden attended Callington Primary School with a small and close-knit group of friends before completing his secondary education at Eastern Fleurieu School at Strathalbyn.
"He struggled with English … but he loved maths and science. He wanted to be an architect," Amity said.
Amity said Hayden had planned to have a gap year after graduating Year 12 before heading to university to make his architecture dreams come true.
As an older cousin, Danica Salter, 33, used to babysit Hayden when he was little.
"He was a really good baby, just cute, and funny," she said.
Ms Salter said Hayden was smitten with Mikayla, who was equally as besotted with him.
"He was infatuated with her. Everything revolved around her," she said.
Ms Salter said Hayden's father Mark, mother Shannon, 52, and the entire family was shattered by their loss.
"He's just left a big hole," she said.
"He was just a good person, all around."
Individual GoFundMe pages have been created for both Hayden and Mikayla to help cover funeral costs.