Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Mourners thank men who tried to save earthquake victim

The coffin of earthquake victim Jaime Gilbert, inset, is carried into his funeral at Burnside, Christchurch today. Photos / Brett Phibbs, Supplied
The coffin of earthquake victim Jaime Gilbert, inset, is carried into his funeral at Burnside, Christchurch today. Photos / Brett Phibbs, Supplied

The two men who tried to save Christchurch man Jaime McDowell Gilbert were thanked at his funeral today.

Hundreds of mourners met to farewell Mr Gilbert at the performing arts centre of his old high school, Burnside High.

Mr Gilbert, 22, died after being hit by rubble while he was fleeing the Iconic Bar with his sister Amy.

Two men who tried to rescue him - bar manager Sam Siave and a bypasser Ahsei "Ace" Sopoaga - hauled off the concrete that lay over him and Amy. Although Amy survived, Mr Gilbert died soon afterward with Amy by his side.

They were thanked by Baha'i member and close family friend Grant Hindin-Miller, who has known Mr Gilbert since he was a child.

"I would like to pay tribute to the valiant efforts of Sam Siave and Ahsei Sopoaga. They did everything they could to assist Jaime and the family are grateful and thank you for your spontaneous, generous and selfless acts of love."

Mr Gilbert's brother Peter Cooney gave a eulogy after travelling over from Brisbane when he heard the news. He said he had spoken to his younger brother days before the funeral "so my last words were to say I loved him".

The funeral was a mix of Mr Gilbert's life, including a haka, Baha'i prayers and readings and musical perfomances. Mr Gilbert's coffin was topped with a large green graffiti-style 'tag' of his nickname, JimJam.

A trust fund has been set up for Mr Gilbert's young children, Levi, 2, and India Rose, 6 months.

Mr Gilbert's coffin was taken to the Little River marae for a private burial.

- NZ Herald

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