Teen killed in scooter crash 'a blessing in our lives'
The "charming" and "cheeky" smile of a friendly-faced teenage boy gazed out across a packed chapel in stark relief to the mourners gathered to farewell a young man taken too soon.
Harley Marcellus Vivian-Fletcher, 16, died after he was thrown from his scooter in a crash with a 4WD vehicle at the intersection of Rangitikei and Featherston streets in Palmerston North on January 23, just a short distance from his home, where he was headed.
Blessed with "a spark of magic" that enabled him to make friends with ease, the popularity of the teen was evidenced by the sheer number of people who turned out for his funeral yesterday, filling the seats of the Lychway Chapel while others stood.
Brought up by his nana Joan primarily but "raised by a village", his father Marcellus Vivian described his son as his best friend, while to his mother Sylvia Fletcher, he would always be "my boy".
Recalling times spent playing games together, Harley's step-granddad, Nick, recounted having to "watch" a cheeky Harley, who "always stacked the odds in his favour".
"Wherever and however you are now, Harley, keep on shining, you will be sorely missed," he said.
Harley's aunt described his strong bond with his sister Angel, and how her son, his nephew, hero-worshipped him.
"None of those cliches are going to work here today, you know. ‘He's better off where he is', ‘He's in no pain', blah blah. That doesn't matter. It's not fair, he should be here. We can't change that, but what we can do is really appreciate the blessing of having had him in our lives, looking at so many people that he's given that gift to. He'll always be in the hearts and minds of those that loved him.
"Keep it real though, Harley wouldn't want ‘fluffy stuff'."
Harley's family thanked the gathering of his friends for the tributes placed for him at the site of the crash, where many of the teens spent time reflecting in the days following his death, decorating a sign there with brightly coloured flowers.
From family and long-term friends to those who had known him for just a few months, person after person took to the podium to share their stories of the teen who they knew to be humorous, always on the trail of a feed, and a sharp dresser.
Among them was Jesse, who said Harley changed his life.
The pair met when Jesse's life "wasn't going so great" but "there was never any bad times with him".
Jesse said he knew he'd made a true friend when fashion-conscious Harley lent him a pair of pants - surprising enough in itself, given how much he "loved his gears" - but the gesture took on more meaning when Harley told Jesse, who was feeling conflicted about his purpose in life, he would give up his gears to have him by his side as his "bro".
There were tales of high school hijinks, brutal honesty, fist bumps and Harley's continual use of the word "gee".
Freyberg High School teacher aide Michael Ryan also spoke, promising Harley he would reserve his seat in the school's H block, and make sure there was a sign there, designating it "Harley's corner".
He summed up the feeling of the congregation when he said: "For such a young man to lose his life, it's just devastating."