Vic­tim’s fam­ily praises ‘lo­cal he­roes’


The fam­ily of one of the three young Levin crash victims have hailed the ‘‘lo­cal he­roes’’ who tried to save the men from their burn­ing car last Sun­day.

A statement is­sued on be­half of 23-year-old Ja­cob Gray’s par­ents Dun­can and Kirsty, and his sisters Kelsey and Tea­gan, said they wanted to thank ‘‘the New Zealand com­mu­nity for your love, kind mes­sages and sup­port. We have been over­whelmed by your sup­port and kind words’’.

Gray died with Porirua broth­ers Shand Cot­grove, 24, and Jesse Si­mon­sen, 18, when the car they were in crashed into a parked truck and trailer in Levin shortly af­ter mid­night on Sun­day.

The fam­ily statement added: ‘‘We would like to ac­knowl­edge the lo­cal he­roes who risked their own lives to try to save Ja­cob, Shand and Jessie and we want them to know that we will al­ways be grate­ful to you for what you did on that fate­ful evening.

‘‘We would like to thank those who were in at­ten­dance from the New Zealand Po­lice, the Am­bu­lance Ser­vice and the New Zealand Fire Ser­vice for your car­ing and thor­oughly pro­fes­sional re­sponse, and to the owner of the truck that was in­volved in this tragic ac­ci­dent, we thank you for your heart­felt com­pas­sion.

‘‘We as a fam­ily are dev­as­tated to have lost these boys and we know that those of you who knew them are griev­ing too and we are think­ing of you all. We have been over­whelmed by the lov­ing re­sponse from all over New Zea- land and even the rest of the world.

‘‘Ja­cob was a great guy who loved his fam­ily and friends. We are over­whelmed by how much love we have seen for him, Shand and Jessie over the past week.

‘‘We want to thank those of you who have do­nated through the Givealit­tle page [to raise money for the fu­ner­als]. We are hum­bled by the re­sponse we have re­ceived from you all.

‘‘We ask that our fam­i­lies’ pri­vacy be re­spected at this time but want you all to know that we are in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for the all that you have done, your thoughts, prayers and words of com­fort.

‘‘I want to re­mem­ber my broth­ers as the kind in­di­vid­u­als that they were.’’

Ear­lier, Lane Cot­grove, older brother to Shand Cot­grove and Jesse Si­mon­sen, said the pair were the youngest of four broth­ers, and were help­ful and happy. ‘‘They knew a lot of peo­ple be­cause of their kindness.’’

Shand Cot­grove was a ‘‘fan­tas­tic fa­ther’’.

‘‘He loved his kids. He loved them and he had all the time in the world for them.’’

About a week be­fore the ac­ci­dent, Shand Cot­grove moved to Levin to be closer to fam­ily.

The last time Lane Cot­grove saw Jesse, his youngest brother, was about two weeks be­fore the ac­ci­dent, to con­grat­u­late him on a build­ing job he’d just landed.

The 18-year-old had been do­ing well in a build­ing ap­pren­tice­ship, Lane Cot­grove said. ‘‘He en­joyed be­ing that builder. He was re­ally hands-on.’’

His broth­ers would be farewelled in a joint ser­vice in Porirua, but they were yet to con­firm a time.

Po­lice are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate the cause of the crash.

Clock­wise from main, Shand Cot­grove and his son, Tyler; Jesse Si­mon­sen, 18, who was the youngest of four broth­ers; Ja­cob Gray with his part­ner, Amy Hill­man.

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