A woman whose husband was tragically killed by a boat during a swim in Auckland waters says the past few days have been the darkest of her life.
Laura McLeod told the Herald about her anguish and shock coming to terms with the gut-wrenching loss of her soulmate, Leslie Gelberger, after he was struck by a boat in the Waitemata Harbour last Thursday.
His body was spotted by a passing passenger ferry on Friday afternoon. He had been missing since Thursday when he went for a lunchtime swim off Narrow Neck Beach.
As preparations get under way to farewell the popular secondary school maths teacher, his devastated wife and mum-of-two said the nightmare of the past five days had been tempered by the "amazing generosity" shown to her family.
McLeod said the kind comments had touched her deeply at such a horrible time. Words failed to express the depth of her gratitude.
"The last several days have been the worst of my life but I have been utterly blown away at the kindness and generosity of friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. So many have stepped forward to offer their help," said McLeod, whose 40th birthday on Saturday was overshadowed by the tragedy.
"The explosion of the Givealittle page has been utterly humbling.
"Beyond the amazing generosity of so many people, the many kind comments have touched me so deeply at such a horrible time. That so many people who I have never even met would take the time to offer their support, there are no words to express my gratitude."
A Givealittle page set up to raise funds for the family, who shifted to New Zealand three years ago, has risen to nearly $35,000 since it was set up just three days ago.
A companion Gofundme page set up by McLeod's sister, Dawn, in Canada stands just shy of $10,000.
McLeod said she would love to be able to thank each and every person who had helped her family since tragedy struck.
"We knew we had found an amazing place living here in New Zealand, but we really didn't know how lucky we were."
She was now focusing on treasuring the numerous stories from those who knew her husband and save them for her two young boys so they could understand the calibre of their father when they grew older.
The family were now preparing a celebration of Gelberger's life.
Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate the ill-fated swim, focusing on a Ports of Auckland pilot boat.
Gelberger's body, missing a leg, was discovered Friday afternoon floating in the water. Police are investigating whether Gelberger was struck by the boat.