Mystery death of Aussie footballer in Saigon hotel room

Ashleigh Hession, left, will travel to Vietnam after the funeral in a search for answers over Luke's death.

Family farewell ‘vibrant, fun-loving’ former Aussie football player after unexplained Vietnam death

The Gold Coast family of former professional football player Luke Hession have been left searching for answers after his body was found in a Vietnam hotel room last week.

Mr Hession was on a one night stopover in Saigon on his way back from Australia to Los Angeles where he had been living for the past three years.

The 35-year-old – who played for several football teams including the Newcastle Knights and was working as a guitarist in the up-and-coming band Shikobi – was travelling alone.

Mr Hession’s wife Ashleigh told she had spoken to him just hours before his death and he had sounded happy and healthy.

Luke Hession is a former NRL player, with the Newcastle Knights among his former clubs.

“I last spoke to Luke at 7:30pm on the night of his death and he was super excited and about to head out and explore Ho Chi Minh City as he only had one night there,” Mrs Hession said.

“He was excited to go and try Pho and have some drinks. I warned him to be careful because he was alone and he laughed it off saying he would be fine. I was always the stress head and Luke was always the total opposite – a total free spirit without a care in the world.”

Mrs Hession said she grew worried when she did not hear from him before his flight was due to take off at 11.15am the next morning.

Luke Hession, centre, pictured with his brother Aaron and his wife Ashleigh.

“I tried calling a number of times and messaging and I was confused as to why my messages were still being delivered, meaning his phone was still attached to wifi.

“I hunted down his airline and they confirmed he had missed his flight, so I then found the hotel name on his bank statement and contacted them and insisted they check Luke’s room.

“It was then that they informed me they had found Luke’s body in his room on his bed a few hours earlier and sent it off to a morgue.

“The hotel just said to me, ‘I’m so sorry mam but your husband is dead. And I just said no, this isn’t right.’ They couldn’t even tell me where he was.

“It took them almost 36 hours to track down where his body was.”

According to a police report there was no sign of suicide or that a crime had been committed, Ms Hession said.

Mrs Hession said she suspected her husband’s drink may have been spiked.

“I have a feeling that it was something to do with his drink. That it was something either given to him or that he didn’t know about.

“It’s been a nightmare but it doesn’t feel real. I’m just numb,” she said.

Mrs Hession said she and her husband had separated about 12 months ago, but had remained the best of friends, living together with Hession’s brother Aaron and their two dogs in LA.

“Luke and I managed to achieve what was unachievable in that we built the most beautiful relationship and cherished our friendship beyond everything so refused to let that suffer when we decided to not stay together as a couple.

“We created our own little family in the two of us, Luke’s brother, Aaron, and our two pups, and we refused to ever let anything come between that. He was my entire world, and I his. And the five of us were inseparable.”

Mrs Hession said her husband was a popular and fun-loving man and his death had left his family and many friends deeply in shock.

“Luke touched so many lives. He truly had the most incredible vibrant personality and positive outlook on life. He was the most trusting, loyal, loving, hilariously funny, class clown. He made everyone laugh no matter how down they were.”

Mrs Hession said her husband had no known health issues before his death.

“He was perfectly healthy. He was the happiest, healthiest human. He loved to go out and party but he would always work out regularly, he ate perfectly healthy.

“And he was so happy. You could never be down around him because he would just pull you out of it, and that’s why we know it was definitely nothing like suicide.”

Mr Hession’s body was flown back to Brisbane yesterday afternoon and his funeral will be held on Friday in Tweed Heads.

Mrs Hession said the gut-wrenching task of bringing him home had been made even harder because of the language barrier and confusion still surrounding his death.

The family had elected not to have an autopsy conducted in Vietnam because of the delays it would have meant in bringing him back to Australia, she said.

However, Mrs Hession said she was determined to find some answers and would be travelling to Vietnam after his funeral to speak to the hotel staff and police in person.

“The hotel told me they have security footage so I want to see what time he left the hotel, when he came back and what state he was in when he came back. And what was in his room, was there anything suspicious in his room?”

“I think I just need to go and speak to people in person if I want proper answers and I’m not going to be able to get them and get the closure that I need from here.” – Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018

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