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‘Heart of our family’ mourned,Friends pay tribute to an ‘all-round nice guy’

A FORMER Gisborne man who died here in a pool-jumping accident on New Year’s Eve has been remembered by his family as a “sensitive and generous person with a wonderful heart”.

Ben Sargent, 20, died on New Year’s Eve after climbing a tennis court lighting pole and trying to jump into a swimming pool at a Lytton West home where he was socialising.

Mr Sargent hit the pool edge when he attempted to leap into the swimming pool from the 10-metre pole.

Mr Sargent’s family told the Bay of Plenty Times he was “the heart of our family” and “he had all of the best parts of each of us – and he made them even better”.

“Ben was a loving, sensitive and generous person with a wonderful heart. He was quietly spoken, polite and intelligent,” the family said.

“He had a large circle of friends, was well loved and popular, with a warm presence that filled a room. He was open and loving with his friends and family.”

He is survived by his mother Karen Peake (Gisborne), his father Murray, who lives in Western Australia, his elder brother Jamie, based in America, and elder sisters Jasmine (Tauranga) and Alana (Sydney).

The family recalled Mr Sargent’s talent at sports. He was especially skilled at soccer. As a teenager, he was selected for a Poverty Bay rep team.

“He was playing with Lytton High School when they won the Bailey Cup, as one of the youngest players on the team.

“In recent years, he played indoor soccer socially, where he was well liked and admired for his ability. He was also a talented skateboarder.

“He excelled in all areas. He was renowned for picking up new skills, mastering them quickly and surpassing everyone else.”

Ben Sargent went to Makauri School, Gisborne Intermediate and Lytton High School.

He moved to Tauranga at age 17, where he lived with his sister Jasmine.

He was in the last year of his flooring apprenticeship, his second-year results placing him in the top 5 percent in New Zealand.

A long-time friend of Mr Sargent, 18-year-old Gisborne man Scott Tallott, was there when Mr Sargent fell.

“I was there from age 10 to his very last breath,” he told The Dominion Post.

“I was in the ICU when he passed. I’m just never going to be able to shake that. I’m just going to carry him with me wherever I go.”

Mr Tallott told the Dominion Post the event that led to Mr Sargent’s death began as the sort of high-spirited stunt for which the pair were known.

A group of friends were waiting for a taxi to take them to the Rhythm and Vines music festival when Mr Sargent climbed the pole.

“It was nothing but an accident. He loved a bit of a risk, that was sort of our gig,” he told the newspaper.

“That’s exactly why nobody stopped him, because people had seen us do stuff like that all the time.”

Mount Maunganui bar manager Sam van den Berg said Mr Sargent and his friends came to his bar almost every Saturday and he was known by most of the staff.

“When I was told about it, I was in shock,” he said.

“He was an all-round nice guy. He went out of his way to help you. It’s just really sad.”

Police say the incident was a tragic accident and Mr Sargent’s death has been referred to the coroner.

– NZME, additional reporting ?The Gisborne Herald