Rescued teenager among mourners at hero’s funeral
MORE than 700 family members and friends attended Kiwi hero Richard Ebbett’s funeral yesterday.
Ebbett’s body was found a week ago after he fell into Mt Ruapehu’s crater lake and died during an expedition on Whakapapa ski field.
The 39-year-old outdoor enthusiast, known as Richie, was farewelled during a ceremony at Palmerston North’s Awapuni Racecourse.
One of the people in attendance was Jessie King, 19, whose life Ebbett saved 16 years ago in 2001.
The motocross fan was hailed a hero when he rushed to the aid of four children after a tractor crashed into a ditch, killing the driver. King, her two brothers now aged 24 and 18, and their cousin had been travelling in a trailor being pulled by the tractor and Ebbett, who was coming back from a motocross event in Kawhia, had freed two of the children trapped in the trailer and rescued an 18-month-old who was thrown face-down into a drain.
King attended the funeral with her siblings and partner to pay her respects to the man who saved her life.
She said she was not sure whether the 18-month-old had been her or her younger brother Julian, but said Ebbett had saved all the kids’ lives that day. She never got to say thank you to her hero. However, she wanted to attend his funeral to pay her respects, she said.
‘‘I would have given him a big hug and said thank you. Thank you for being there at the right time.’’
The theme of Ebbett as a hero kept resurfacing throughout yesterday’s three-hour ceremony as various friends paid tribute to him.
Solis Norton, who described Ebbett as his ‘‘true hero’’, said he was a man with a big heart, who was steadfast, positive, and as ‘‘honest as a day is long’’.
Ebbett’s humour, love for food, motocross, the outdoors and his sense of adventure were interwoven in the speeches made by family and friends at the packed ceremony. Friend Scotty Brooker said Ebbett was an enthusiastic guy with a larger than life attitude. Ebbett loved his family, friends, adored his son, and would be missed by all, Brooker said.
‘‘You went out on top of the world, who else can say that – full Richie style,’’ he said.
Ebbett’s father Harvey spoke at the funeral and said it was possible his son had fainted and fallen into the crater lake.
He thanked the people involved in the search party who scaled the mountain to search for Ebbett after he was reported missing on Friday.
Ebbett, a farm boy from Pahiatua, attended Palmerston North Boys’ High School and later went on to own the Moto SR Motorcycle dealership in Taupo.
He was well known and respected in the motocross (MX) community.
Richard Ebbett’s death was front-page news last week.