Surfer dies in Indonesia: ‘Everyone just loved Luke’
THE death of former Byron Bay resident Pater Luke in a surfing incident off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa on Monday has left many people on the Northern Rivers in mourning.
The popular 27-year-old physical education school teacher and football player moved from Warrnambool, Victoria, to Byron Bay, in 2007, to study teaching at Lismore's Southern Cross University.
In October 2013, Mr Luke was bitten by the travel bug and flew to Canada.
He landed a job at the renowned ski resort of Whistler, where he made many friends.
After about nine months at Whistler, Mr Luke left for Australia, via Indonesia, for a surfing holiday with two mates.
It was there the trio took a boat trip from Sumbawa, searching for the perfect wave, when they discovered huge five-metre barrels at Scar Reef.
West Sumbawa police chief Teddy Hendyawan Syarif said the surf at the spot was huge at the time Mr Luke was killed.
"The victim's death was caused by a wave smashing into him, which at that time was massive, up to five metres high," he told reporters.
Surfers are lured to the island of Sumbawa, west of Bali, by the promise of huge perfect waves that break over shallow reefs.
Physical education teacher at Ballina's Southern Cross School Paul Kirkland said he met Mr Luke when he moved to Byron Bay and began studying at SCU.
They quickly became close mates when Mr Luke joined Lennox Head Football club, where Mr Kirkland coached and played.
"He was just a true gentleman, he really was," he said.
"He didn't have a bad fault and everyone just loved him.
"He had a really infectious smile and you couldn't help but warm to him."
Once he graduated and started working at Southern Cross School and Richmond River High, casually, Mr Kirkland said Mr Luke became very popular with students and colleagues.
"It was a big shock because he was going to be home in a week or two."
Mr Luke's body is being flown to Warrnambool, where his funeral is expected to be held.
He is survived by his parents Allan and Mary and his sister Laura.