Tributes continued to pour in last night as news of the death of award-winning Isidingo actress Ashley Callie sunk in. The 32-year- old star succumbed to severe head injuries on Friday, a week after she was involved in a horror car crash in Johannesburg.
Callie played the role of Leonie (Lee), the daughter of business magnate Barker Haines in the prime-time SABC 3 soapie.
Their voices quivering with emotion, dozens of Callie’s television fans phoned radio stations and wrote messages of condolences on her website.
Hundreds of responses were posted on the ashleycallie.co.za website created by her fans to support her while in hospital after the accident.
One fan wrote: “I haven’t felt this badly since Princess Diana died. How is it possible that someone so young, beautiful and talented can just be snuffed from our midst? ”
Another message read: “Ashley, you were an amazing woman, an amazing actress. RIP.”
And: “I cannot imagine Isidingo without her. It’s such a tragic shock. I just cannot believe she is gone. It is heart wrenching watching Isidingo and knowing that there will be a time when she is no longer in the show.”
Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan said he was deeply shocked and saddened by the untimely death of a young, gifted South African television actress.
“We hope that her family, friends, relatives and fans will allow her spirit to rest in peace,” Jordan said in a statement yesterday morning.
“We were truly blessed to have a young, gifted South African who stretched all the sinews in her body to reflect the ideals of a united, non-racial and non-sexist society. Lala ngoxolo (rest in peace), Ms Callie!”
Gauteng Arts and Culture MEC Barbara Creecy said: “On behalf of the Gauteng provincial government we extend our condolences to the Callie family, Isidingo cast, members of the arts fraternity and those who loved and supported Ashley.
“As we mourn her death, let us also celebrate her life as she continues to live in the hearts and minds of Isidingo soapie lovers through her character on the screen.”
Isidingo executive producer Phumla Hopa said the soap opera’s writing team was still in shock over her passing and did not have any concrete plans on how to deal with her character — an integral part of the Isidingo team for five years — in upcoming story lines.
Said Hopa: “Ashley’s professionalism and talent is going to be sorely missed by us, her production team, the cast and crew of Isidingo. But more than her work as an actress, Ashley’s humor, compassion, sparkle and positivity is going to be missed the most.”
Callie was involved in a head-on collision last Friday night on the corner of 4th Avenue and Tana Road in Emmarentia, north of Johannesburg. She was driving home after she had attended the Pirelli Calender launch at Summer Place in Hyde Park.
While in intensive care at the Johannesburg Hospital, she underwent brain surgery last Saturday to alleviate the pressure on her brain.
Doctors told the family they were optimistic about her recovery and her sister, Lauren, said they were indeed convinced that she would pull through because she was a very strong person.
But on Friday afternoon, with her family members keeping vigil at her bedside, she lost the battle to live.
The grieving family released a statement: “It is with great sadness that we confirm that Ashley Callie passed away today (Friday), a week after her tragic motorcar accident. Ashley continues to live on in our hearts and minds.”
In 2006 Callie won the award for best actress in a soap — for her role as Haines — at the inaugural South African Film and Television Awards. – The Times