Community remembers a young life cut short

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2014

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A happy and friendly boy killed at a logging site in South Otago has been remembered by his school friends and teachers in a ceremony at his close-knit school.

Johnathan James Kerr, 7, of Milton, was killed in what has been described as a "freak accident" in a logging area in the Manuka Gorge on Friday.

The Milton School community gathered to remember a young life cut short at an assembly yesterday.

School principal Tania McNamara said Johnathan would be remembered as a happy and friendly boy from room six.

He was well liked by his peers and teachers, she said.

"He will be sadly missed by the Milton School community and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time," Mrs McNamara said on behalf of the school.

Johnathan was also a kind and caring brother to Hayley, she said.

The family has requested privacy but a death notice published in yesterday's Otago Daily Times describes Johnathan as a "cherished and loved son" and "the bestest loved brother".

"Our wee man, still truckin on," the notice said.

A service of farewell will be held on Friday in Balclutha.

Meanwhile, police are remaining quiet about how Johnathan was killed.

He was declared dead in a logging area in the Manuka Gorge after emergency services could not revive him.

Detective Sergeant Brett Roberts, of Dunedin, said a truck seized by police from the site was undergoing forensic and electrical testing, which could take several days.

Police are refusing to provide information surrounding the exact nature of Johnathan's death, saying only it was not the result of a logging accident.

They would also not confirm what kind of truck had been seized, nor would they confirm reports that the boy died after getting his head caught in a truck window.

The cause of death would not be released by police as the matter had become a coroner's inquiry, he said.

A truck from South Otago contracting company Wynyard Transport was seen working at the scene of the boy's death, but a Wynyard spokesman said on Saturday he did not want to comment while an investigation was under way.

"I could comment but not while there is an investigation going on. I don't want to jeopardise it."

Mosgiel-based Wenita Forest Products is listed as the owners of the Nugget Stream forest block where Johnathan died.

Company chief executive David Cormack told The Southland Times the investigation was in the hands of the coroner and the company was instructed not to talk to media.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he had limited information on the incident but as a father himself, his heart went out to the family.

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Johnathan's family said they did not want to comment at this stage.

 

- The Southland Times

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