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.

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