The mother of a much-loved Gold Coast man, killed in a tragic accident in Italy, says the family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
Jake Ryan, who survived the 2002 Bali bombings, was killed after being hit by a train while out jogging in Noto last week.
His death sparked an outpouring of emotion across the Gold Coast with friends describing him as a ‘beautiful bloke’ with an ‘amazing story.’
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It also shocked the tight-knit AFL community on the Gold Coast, with Jake having previously played for the Southport Sharks and Surfers Paradise Demons.
Jake’s mum Leanne says they’ve been overwhelmed by the support.
“Jake was very, very good at keeping in touch with people and we’ve had messages from people all over the world,” Mrs Ryan told Hot Tomato’s Galey, Emily Jade and Christo.
“It’s been phenomenal really and I guess one of the things too, we can’t get to answer all the messages so we just wanted to say thank you to everybody.
“The outpouring of love has just been amazing.”
Tributes were also paid to Jake by Geelong star Joel Selwood and Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt after their respective preliminary finals on the weekend.
“I just want to send some love to Jake Ryan, his family and his friends and everyone around Australia,” Riewoldt said.
“He was a champion bloke, a champion footballer and a lot of people are hurting the moment. Stick in there guys and keep spreading the love.”
Mrs Ryan says it was a special moment that Jake would have been proud of.
“Two preliminary finals and he cracked a mention in both of them. He would have been rapt about that.
He would have asked if you’d seen it and if you hadn’t seen it, he’s got a video to show you.”
The family is now in the process of trying to bring Jake’s body home, but are being hampered by bureaucracy and a lack of flights between Europe and Australia.
A memorial service will be held at some stage but the family says that all depends on when his body his repatriated.
Mrs Ryan also moved to dispel speculation that Jake’s death was anything other than an accident.
His death came just a day after the 18th anniversary of the Bali bombings, with Jake posting a touching tribute on social media to mark the day, prompting rumours about the cause.
“Given we’re in a pandemic and mental health is front and centre, there have been a lot of suicides from people who just haven’t been able to deal, and I just want everyone to know that was just a tragic, tragic accident,” Mrs Ryan said.
“From what we understand, he was off the road and it wasn’t a tunnel or anything, it was under a road and it was quite normal to duck through there.
He was actually aware of the train and according to the train driver he was clear of the train except it had stepns on the side and it was the steps that clipped him and threw him.
“He died, we believe almost instantaneously. The driver of the train stopped and the driver tried to render assistance but it was too late and we’re told he died of massive internal injuries.”