Mitchell Gaffney, a newlywed, is mourning the deaths of ten of his closest friends, all of whom perished unexpectedly on his wedding night three weeks ago, on June 11th.
Gaffney finally spoke up about the painful incident during the burial of his ‘very loveable’ buddy Zachary Bray, which took place yesterday (4 July) in Sydney, Australia.
Bray and nine other Gaffney friends were killed in a tragedy near Greta in NSW’s Hunter Valley last month after a reception at Wandin Valley Estate.
The bus was bringing 35 people to and from Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell’s wedding.
Bray, 29, was honored as a cherished brother and son who gloriously overcame bowel cancer during his burial ceremony at Macquarie Park.
Gaffney took the opportunity to pay sincere respect to his friend, whom he met on the football pitch when they both played for the Singleton Roosters in the AFL.
”Although you’ll never get the chance to put the jumper on again,” he continued, “you’ll always be there by our side.”
Gaffney also stated why Bray was affectionately referred to by his football teammates as ‘Labrador’ or ‘Lab’.
“He became affectionately known as the labrador, or lab, as they’re affectionate dogs, extremely loveable, but no matter what they do, they do it with that big goofy smile,” Gaffney said.
Gaffney continued with the football comparisons, calling Bray the perfect team player who ‘had the capacity to make everyone feel involved’.
“We will forever cherish the memories that we are lucky enough to hold together,” he concluded.
During the funeral ceremony, friends, family, and loved ones paid their respects to Bray.
Georgie Copeland, his girlfriend, said, “My heart hurts, I can’t deny it. But I know that it hurts deeply because it was deeply real.”
Jacqui Varasdi, the man’s mother, went on to call being a mom to Bray her “greatest achievement.”
“And to see you here, laying in this box, just doesn’t make any sense,” she said, before bidding one more final farewell via their beloved song “You Are My Sunshine.”
“We spoke the day before you died, and I can still hear the joy in your voice and picture the huge smile on your face as you talked excitedly about Mitch and Maddie’s wedding.”
Bray, a pilot, was also remembered by his father Adam, who described his son as having a “uniquely pure soul.”
“Over and out,” his father declared as part of his parting statement. “Rest in peace, my beautiful boy.”
The father recently described being halted by police after attempting to locate his kid in the bus, which had flipped over on its side.
“I simply said,’my kid’s on that bus,’ and they replied to me, ‘If your son is on that bus, honestly you don’t want to see him,’ he told.
“I just sat on the ground, on my own, and broke down for an hour,” the bereaved parent added.
The bus driver, named as Brett Andrew Button, was granted bail a few days after the tragedy on June 13th. He was charged with ten charges of reckless driving and one count of negligent driving that resulted in death.
On August 9, the 58-year-old will appear at Newcastle Local Court.
Over AUD$1 million has subsequently been collected for the ‘Hunter Valley (NSW) Bus Tragedy Fund (RABS),’ which was established to offer charitable assistance and support to survivors, victims, and their immediate relatives of the terrible bus disaster.
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