Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

'Incredibly sad. We're in shock'

Kuz Baice is believed to have suffered an aneurysm at his gym. Photo / Facebook
Kuz Baice is believed to have suffered an aneurysm at his gym. Photo / Facebook

A tight-knit workforce at DHL's Auckland Airport depot is reeling after tragedy struck twice for its staff.

Twenty-five-year-old employee and fitness fanatic Kuz "Gus" Baice died on Wednesday. After leaving work he headed to the gym where he collapsed and died. It is believed he suffered a brain aneurysm.

The day after Gus' death, the DHL workforce was shattered by more devastating news when the school-age daughter of fellow worker Yvonne Burgess died.

Staff were informed of the tragedies in an email from managing director Michael Dhu, who wrote "it has definitely been a sad few days".

Employees are now contributing to a joint koha in an attempt to rally behind the bereaved families.

Dhu's assistant, Julie Harris, said sadness was weighing heavily on the warehouse's 30 employees. Staff had been granted time off from work tomorrow to attend Baice's funeral.

"We're all still in shock, people are only just getting their heads around what has happened in the last few days," Harris told the Herald on Sunday."We're still waiting to find out more about Yvonne's situation.

"All we know is that her daughter was young and had been in hospital since Tuesday. It seems like it was very sudden as Yvonne's husband called the warehouse that morning trying to find her at work. It's incredibly sad.

"A big group of us will turn out to say goodbye at Gus' funeral [tomorrow]."

Harris said Baice was married early last year and had a 1-year-old daughter. Strong Factory owner Dan Brinkley said the gym was Baice's "second home" and its members had also been rocked by the loss of its "gentle giant".

"Gus was the most humble guy in the gym," Brinkley said. "He was super-strong but he would always say how strong everyone else was. He was like a big kid, always smiling and super-happy. The nicest guy.

"Everyone knows and trains with each other. Gus would even come in on his rest days to hang out with people. The gym was his happy place."

A lengthy tribute to Baice on the gym's Facebook page signed off by saying: "It was an honour and a pleasure to have spent time with him. Miss you my brother."

Brinkley said the gym's regulars will turn out in force at tomorrow's funeral and they will be setting up an online collection for the Baice family.

"We've got some tribute shirts made up for him and the family. He would have wanted that."

- Herald on Sunday

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