UPDATE @ 29 August 2017, 6am: Surf Lifesavers on the Gold Coast and throughout the state will be offered counselling after the shock death yesterday of Dean Mercer, one of the sport’s most popular champions.
Surf Life Saving Queensland said members in the sport’s community have been affected by the passing of the father of four.
No plans have been announced at this early stage for a funeral or memorial service, however friend and family spokesman Ian Hanson said a large turnout from around Australia is expected.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
EARLIER on 28 August 2017: The family of much-loved Ironman champion Dean Mercer have expressed their grief at his shock death on the Gold Coast this morning.
The father of four suffered a heart attack while driving near the Q-Supercentre in Mermaid Waters just before 7am.
He crashed his car into a fence on Markeri Street. He was rushed by Ambulance to Gold Coast University Hospital, but died a short time later.
The 47-year-old’s family has released a statement, saying the loving husband and devoted father “will be remembered as the little bloke with the heart of Phar Lap”.
“It is with great sadness and grief that we advise that our beloved Dean – loving husband of Reen and devoted father to their four boys Brayden,13, Rory,11, Lachlan 9, and Joshua 6, passed away earlier today”.
“Dean had been returning home from his regular earlier morning training session with a Masters group at Kurrawa Surf Club – where he is the Director of Surf Sports.
“Reen, surrounded by close friends has had to tell her boys of the shocking news.
“You can only imagine the grief surrounding the Mercer family at this time.
“Dean was an amazing husband and loving father who loved nothing more than sharing his and Reen’s love of life and love of the surf.
“Along with older brother Darren the Mercer brothers Dean and Darren became synonymous with surf lifesaving and ironman racing through the 80s, 90s and 2000s.
“A two-time Australian open ironman champion in 1989 and 1995 Dean Mercer will be remembered as the little bloke with the heart of Phar Lap.
“No surf was too big and no opponent too tall as he tackled the biggest and best in the business from his early days in Austinmer and Thirroul before making his move to Maroochydore and Mooloolaba and then to Northcliffe and finally to Kurrawa.
“He will go down in history as one of Australia’s greatest ironmen who represented both NSW and Queensland and wore the green and gold of Australia.
“Dean Mercer also had a personal love affair with the Coolangatta Gold, a race he first finished third to his brother Darren in 1992 and then third to Zane Holmes in 2006 and second to Caine Eckstein in 2009.
A champion bloke and a true champion in every sense of the word – taken from us too soon.”
Surf Life Saving NSW has offered condolences to the family, saying his death “is a major loss”.
Our thoughts are with the family of Dean Mercer. The former Thirroul lifesaver & Ironman is a major loss to the Surf Life Saving community ? pic.twitter.com/gGcxXs2Bni
— Surf Life Saving NSW (@slsnsw) August 28, 2017
Mayor Tom Tate has also issued a statement and paid tribute to Mr Mercer.
“Dean Mercer’s passing is a sudden and tragic loss for our city,” Cr Tate said.
“A husband, father and former ironman champion, Dean was an idol in the surf life saving world. The city’s thoughts and prayers are with Dean’s wife Reen and their family during this extremely difficult time.”
It comes as the Mercer family is already grieving the loss of their matriarch. Darren Mercer’s daughter, Jordan (who also shares the family sporting genes), shared on Facebook overnight a post in memory of her great grandmother Jessie, who was farewelled last week.
“God just welcomed a very special angel home,” she wrote alongside a touching family photo.