Gabriel Runge died in a crash during a school trip in New Zealand.
Gabriel Runge died in a crash during a school trip in New Zealand. Facebook

Loss of Gabby an 'unbelievable tragedy'

HUNDREDS of heartfelt messages on Gabriel Runge's Facebook profile paint the picture of a young gentleman renowned for his kind heart and gentle soul.

The 16-year-old Coolum Beach resident, affectionately known as Gabby, was killed in a traffic accident while on an adventure camp in New Zealand with six Noosa Pengari Steiner School classmates and two teachers.

Outdoor education teacher Andre Vogel, who was driving the van the group were travelling in, also died in the accident.

Creator of the Noosa Pengari Steiner School Friends Facebook page Suzannah Pritchard-Laborie said they were part of an "extremely close-knit" community and hundreds of posts to Gabriel's Facebook profile had been made private at the request of his family.

The scene at the Noosa Pengari Steiner School in Doonan following the death of a student and teacher on a school trip in New Zealand. Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily
The scene at the Noosa Pengari Steiner School in Doonan following the death of a student and teacher on a school trip in New Zealand. Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily Iain Curry

"Our son left school three years ago to home-school but was still in contact with Gabby," Ms Pritchard-Laborie said. "This child was the most open-hearted, kind kid who would never say a bad word about anybody."

Ms Pritchard-Laborie said Mr Vogel would take the Steiner school students on mountain bike rides through Doonan and Tinbeerwah and have picnics on her property.

RELATED: Students return from horror NZ holiday

Her son, like many others, was still coming to terms with the loss of a friend he had known for many years.

"Last night he came up to me three times to ask me if Gabby was really dead; it was like it wasn't actually reaching home," she said.

Jana D'Arville paid tribute to Gabriel on the school's Facebook page.

"It is such a sad and unbelievable tragedy ... he was a bright light that sweet boy," she wrote.

The Daily understands a vigil will be held this week. The school did not wish to publicise details of when it would be held.

UPDATE: This article formerly said "hundreds of posts to Gabriel's Facebook profile had been made public". The should have said "private". The Daily apologises for the mistake.


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