Tears shed for young life lost
"HE was only a kid."
With those words, Zandalee Neville fled sobbing from the Richmond Chapel at Goonellabah's Parkview Funeral Home, where about 100 people were saying a sad farewell to14-year-old Jesse-Lee Nedic.
Jesse-Lee, of Casino, died last week when the car in which he was a passenger was involved in a head-on collision on Naughtons Gap Road near Casino.
Zandalee, a close family friend, had been reading a moving poem composed for the occasion, which told how she and others had been preparing to go to the beach when word of the accident came through.
In dread the friends rushed to the family home at Casino.
"But it's worse than we guessed. He just didn't make it."
Funeral director Warren Jacobson told the crowd Jesse-Lee would be remembered for his loving nature, his willingness to help others, his strength, his individuality and his courage.
Jesse-Lee had loved the music of Eminem and Nickelback; he'd loved riding his skateboard and his bicycle.
He had a great love for his friends and his family. He was always ready to help, whether it was helping prepare dinner for the night or something larger.
"Nothing can take away from you what you have shared with Jesse," Mr Jacobson said.
Speaking after the service Jesse-Lee's parents, Melissa McDonald and Jamie Nedic said Jesse-Lee had an unconventional gift of bringing joy to people.
"He'd make this little sound to annoy you," Mr Nedic said.
"He'd see you were in a bad mood and he'd make that noise just to make you smile.
"He always put others before himself."
Ms McDonald said: "His noise was rather annoying but I'd give anything to hear him make it again."
She gave thanks to the Casino community for its support, and particularly the Zebra cafe, which on Wednesday held a fundraising barbecue to help the family.
Reading her poem, Zandalee spoke of the love Jesse-Lee shared with his family and friends and acknowledged the enormity of the tragedy.
"They will never forget his face, the things he did, the smiles that he shared," Zandalee told the weeping crowd.
"He was only a kid."