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.