Family's words for Kiwi killed by sign

23:34, Jan 30 2013
Jacob Marx
TRAGIC ACCIDENT: Jacob Marx died after being hit by a sign in London.

The family of New Zealander Jacob Marx, who died after being crushed by a large metal sign in London, is struggling to come to terms with the death of the well-loved man.

It took five people to haul the sign off  Marx after he was felled in a freak accident while walking down a popular northwest London retail street.

Marx, a 27-year-old lawyer from Gisborne, died later in London's University College Hospital.

The former King's College Auckland pupil, who had been working in London since late last year, suffered a massive heart attack at the scene. London police have launched an investigation.

David Marx described his youngest brother as "a wonderful person, a special part of our family, and a much loved friend and partner".

"Losing him so quickly and so far away is very hard for us to come to terms with. We thank everyone for the love and kind support we've received as we try to grapple with what has happened," he said in a statement today.

"We'd also like to thank the emergency services and people in Camden who came to Jacob's aid and tried to help save him.

"It means a lot to us that, despite him being so far from home, people did their best to look after him."

The family were making arrangements to have his body returned to New Zealand.

The hoarding blew off betting shop William Hill in Camden Rd about 5pm Monday (local time or Tuesday morning NZT), leaving Marx with major head and other injuries.

"Every effort was made to resuscitate him at the scene and on the way to University College Hospital," a London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said.

Tributes for the victim, including a New Zealand flag, had been left outside the William Hill.

One card called him "Jacko".

Another read: "This is not how it was supposed to go. We had so many good plans and so many good memories. I promise never to forget you."

Police cordoned off the area and forensics officers examined the scene. Health and safety investigators also entered a flat above the shop to take photographs of the metal sign.

A William Hill spokeswoman said there was an urgent investigation under way and it was still establishing facts and liaising with authorities.

A pensioner who lived above the betting shop said pigeon spikes fitted to the shop roof just before Christmas may have caused some structural weakening.

David Preston, 68, said he was in the kitchen of his house when he heard what sounded like an explosion.

"I didn't know what to think - I thought it could have been the gas," he told The Daily Mail.

"I looked outside and saw this poor guy lying there...

"It is just tragic to think about, such a young life."

Witness Iota Nita, 21, told The Independent: "I just want to go home and cry. I don't know how that can happen. The sign is huge. Everyone said he was just walking past the shop.

"I cross that way five times a day.That could have been me." 

Marx, who graduated from the University of Auckland, had been working for international law firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in New Zealand before transferring to its Sydney offices, practising in its insurance and corporate disputes division.

Richard Blackburn, the firm's people and performance director, said everyone was in shock.

"Jacob was a bright young lawyer who worked hard, produced excellent quality work and made lots of friends at our firm.  Jacob left on good terms in 2010 to transfer to our Sydney office, he kept in touch, and we expected to see him again.

He added: "Our thoughts are with his parents and his family."