Cheeky Charlie mourned

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2014
Charlie Vercoe
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TRAGEDY: Charlie Vercoe was killed in a quad bike accident.

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The 6-year-old Invercargill boy killed while riding an adult quad bike on a farm was a "mischievous and super kid" who loved miniature horses.

Charlie John Vercoe died after the quad bike crashed on a farm at Lorneville near Invercargill about 5.30pm on Monday.

Detective Sergeant Grant Johnstone, of Invercargill, said Charlie and his 12-year-old brother were out together riding quad bikes when the crash happened.

Wallacetown volunteer firefighter Brendan Hamilton said Charlie, who was visiting the property, was pinned under the adult quad bike and submerged in a creek.

He had been freed by people on the farm by the time firefighters arrived but had been trapped under the vehicle for several minutes, Mr Hamilton said.

The boy had a helmet on but was on the vehicle by himself, he said.

Southland police were continuing their investigation into the death.

Initial indications were that Charlie lost control of the quad bike, which rolled before landing in a ditch of water.

He was taken to Southland Hospital where he died.

Southern Miniature Horse Club publicity officer Hazel Leckie, where Charlie was a member, said he was a keen horseman who would be sorely missed by everyone at the club.

"The club is devastated and all our thoughts are with Charlie's family," she said.

"He was a super, super kid, a little mischievous at times but pleasant and well-mannered like all good kids."

Charlie and his family were all associated with the club and he was a real star, Mrs Leckie said.

At a Southern Miniature Horse Club event held in November, Charlie picked up three first places.

The photograph provided by Charlie's parents yesterday shows a proud, smiling boy with a miniature horse and his ribbon.

The whole club was really closeknit and the death would be particularly hard on fellow club member Cara Scott and her husband, Owen Scott, on whose farm the accident happened, Mrs Leckie said.

Charlie's parents were being supported by family members and Victim Support.

A spokeswoman for the family said the boy's parents were not ready to speak to the media at this time.

"It is a terrible tragedy and they are just trying to process their grief," she said.

St Patrick's School principal Callan Goodall said Charlie had attended the school in 2012, but moved to Tisbury School last year.

"He was a quiet wee boy … but had a spark in his eye that made him very popular among the other students," he said.

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Police said the incident was a tragic reminder of the need for a high level of safety around farm vehicles.

The investigation was at an early stage.

WorkSafe New Zealand has also launched an inquiry into the boy's death.

- The Southland Times

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