An investigation is under way after a teenage boy was killed in a freak boating accident in New Zealand, struck by a propeller while being towed on a tube.
The 13-year-old was hit by the propeller and died at the scene, while his 16-year-old friend was taken to hospital in a serious condition.
Friends and family today remembered Billy as a promising young rugby player and a “true leader” in his school community.
Hinuera Rugby and Sports Club posted a tribute to the teen on Facebook saying he was a “fantastic captain, a true leader and an outstanding rugby talent who represented our club with pride and achieved at representative level”.
“It is with incredible sadness that we learn of the tragic passing of one our young club members, Billy Crabb,” the club wrote.
“An amazing role model to his peers and our young junior rugby players. We were very lucky to have him as part of our club.
“Our thoughts, love and prayers go out to (the) family, long-time members and supporters of our club. Our collective hearts are hurting so badly for you all.”
Matamata College Principal Alan Munro said Billy, a Year 9 student at the school, was strong academically as well as in sports.
“The school was shocked and saddened to hear of the accidental death of Year 9 Matamata College student Billy Crabb yesterday afternoon,” Mr Munro said.
“Billy was a positive all-round student with strengths academically as well as on the sports field. Well-liked by his peers and staff and his loss of life has hit our school and wider community hard.
“The school is handling this tragedy as best we can, and our Incident Response Action plan has been actioned to support staff and students.
“Guidance staff have been on hand to support students and this will continue during the week ahead. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time as they are with the families of other boys involved in this tragic accident.”
The boy’s last photo on Instagram showed him waterskiing five days ago.
Many friends and family had posted comments on the images saying rest in peace and posting heart emojis.
An Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust spokesman said the teenager was being towed on a tube, when a wave hit the towing boat and spun it around.
Billy and the other boy were subsequently hit by the boat’s propeller.
His friend suffered multiple lacerations and was taken to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition. A spokeswoman said he is now in a stable condition in a general ward.
Maritime NZ said an investigation into the incident was underway.
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