A Wellington personality known as Mike the Juggler was one of the victims of last week’s Loafers Lodge fire.
Police have now identified three victims of the Newtown fire after five bodies were recovered last week.
The family of Michael Wahrlich, 67, known to many Wellingtonians for juggling on the street, say they are devastated to hear he had died in the tragedy.
“He always enjoyed entertaining the people of Wellington and will be sadly missed by the family and all who knew him,” a short statement released via the police said.
Wahrlich was often found juggling on the street with a big smile on his face. Throughout the years, he was stationed on Cuba St, Manners Mall and most recently down the south end of Lambton Quay.
Another man who died was Melvin Joseph Parun, 68, police said. The third was Peter Glenn O’Sullivan, aged 64.
Acting Wellington District Commander Inspector Dion Bennett said the formal identification process continues for two more victims. The scene examination is also continuing.
Bennett said police are making good progress covering ground in the building but the scene examination was methodical and deliberate and will take time.
The northbound lane of Adelaide Rd remains closed.
“We are grateful for the public’s patience while we carry out critical work at the scene, which requires the continued closure of the northbound lane,” Bennett said.
A tribute page by the Wilson Funeral Home said Wahrlich was a well-known Wellington street entertainer who brought joy to the lives of many people.
“He will be sadly missed by all the people who were lifted by his happy, laughing personality and were provided entertainment as they passed by him.”
Details of the funeral have been made publicly available for those who wish to attend.
A service to celebrate his life will be held at the Wilson Funeral Home Chapel, 375 Adelaide Rd, Newtown, on Friday at 11am, followed by a private cremation. The service will also be live-streamed.
The funeral home asked that any messages to the family be left in Wahrlich’s online tribute book.