Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Town Stands Still for Brothers' Funeral; Thousands Gathered in Sarina to Pay Solemn Tribute to Two Well-Liked Men Killed in Tragic Workplace Accident

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Town Stands Still for Brothers' Funeral; Thousands Gathered in Sarina to Pay Solemn Tribute to Two Well-Liked Men Killed in Tragic Workplace Accident

Article excerpt

Byline: Campbell Gellie campbell.gellie@dailymercury.com.au

THE deaths of two brothers in a tragic workplace accident more than a week ago brought the main streets of Sarina to a standstill yesterday. Every shop was closed and people stood on the kerb as a mark of respect as the long and sombre funeral procession passed from St Michael's Catholic Church to the cemetery.

George Vella, 48, and Frank Vella, 52, died last Saturday at George's business, Vella Haulage Sarina, while cleaning out a tanker. Their deaths rocked the small community, 20 minutes south of Mackay. Remembered as caring, generous and humble men, they were bid a final farewell by about 1000 family and friends at a joint funeral service.

There was no room in the two church buildings, marquees with chairs were full and there was no standing room on the lawn stretching to the footpath.

Standing outside, many couldn't quite hear the service over the PA system but, for an hour and a half, they stood in silence.

There were tears, plenty of tears, as those who spoke mourned that these men were taken too soon.

Yvonne Ericksen had been friends with Frank for about 30 years after meeting him at Sarina business Graham Engineering. She delivered his eulogy.

"Among the many farmers and friendly faces that came in every day, Frank just stood out to me with that contagious grin and smile," she said.

"Frank was a hard-working, caring and such a thoughtful person."

She spoke about how Frank was the envy of all other kids because he owned the first BMX bike in town.

"Frank also enjoyed fishing, something he loved to talk about - always commenting on getting a bigger and better boat although he loved his tinny," she said.

"He was there for the community in so many ways, which included being a volunteer rural firefighter, dropping everything if ever there was a call."

"He helped out at the Sarina Mud Trials but had the smart idea of driving the tractor - that way you stayed clean.

"But Frank didn't mind getting dirty at all to help others, always jumping in to get jobs done. One day just while going for a drive and doing some four-wheel- driving we came across a couple bogged, and guess who had no hesitation of springing into action and pulled them out. …

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