Family pays tribute to son after drowning tragedy
BENNETT Zeller was a young man who inspired the best in others, and gave selflessly to making the world a better place.
The family of the Toowoomba man, 22, who drowned in a canoeing accident in Canada, yesterday paid tribute to his character and commitment to life and loving others.
His father Leo Zeller, on behalf of the family, delivered this tribute in honour of his son:
"Our son and brother Bennett James Zeller was the best example of nurture of nature. Since Ben arrived in this world he was nurtured and loved by the family. That being said, a child needs to find people whose values and beliefs are synonymous.
"He had an energy that was always there with him, but after his first step in the outside world by himself that energy just became him. He went from a person who people thought was arrogant to someone who people sort out as he was selfless and make you feel better for being with him.
"He was a person that cared more than anyone I know. He touched the heart of so many people. It is so sad that it takes this tragedy to know how much people loved him as evident by the posts (on) Facebook.
"He was loud and a touch dopey but in the best ways possibly imaginable. He took his life and created opportunities. He made sure that the people he was close to realise the best they could be too.
"From the stories that we have heard over the past few days in Canada, from people that knew him well that he was a pillar of happiness, a light in a world of struggles even if that meant his needs would come second, time and time again.
"From the memories they have told to us from the constant conversations we've had about him, I couldn't select one, so I will briefly mention the most admirable things about him.
"He worked in disability care, loved every day no matter how tough, no matter how tiring. He worked with disabled orphans in South America, purely because he wanted to see the world but wanted to go about it the best way he could.
"He was an avid snowboarder, and made a career out of it. He was one of the few people that saw what they enjoyed in the world, and wasn't going to do anything else. He taught snowboarding in Perisher, France and finally Canada, the place he will love eternally even though his body in Australia.
"However one of the stories I've heard that provided so much peace wasn't at the orphanage, or on the slopes. It was on a bus. During his course to become a certified snowboarding instructor, one of the friends he had was hard of hearing, and while Bennett saw the world as nothing but beautiful, we all know there are ugly parts.
"This boy endured teasing and exclusion, whistling on the bus and one day he stands up and tells everyone to cut the s***. We were told that when he realised that this boy was being teased that when he heard the whistles, he couldn't be a bystander, couldn't sit and be quiet. This more than anything else is what I hope the people that knew Bennett would take away.
"To not sit by and let life pass them, or let others sit by and let things happen to them. He has been described on Facebook in the beautiful posts by many of the people in his life as a beautiful soul who brought so much happiness (Sarah Robinson), as a soul so pure and kind (Emily Wright), as a privilege to get to know (Courtney Zappia) and all round a pure, kind-hearted brother, son and friend to more than we will ever understand.
"He was an unbelievably faithful friend, wonderful influence and many of the things that are good in a world where there can be so much darkness, and he is never being forgotten.
"But as a family a thanks to all his friends, namely Adam, Nate, Sienna, Jhol, Dom, Harry and finally Rylee, a beautiful person who gave him so much happiness, and we will forever love her for that.
"Finally we cannot ignore the tremendous people of Tobermory, Ontario. The police, divers and search and rescue worked tirelessly. The townsfolk there were so beautiful and supportive of our family. There were so concerned and respectful of Bennett.
"Even though this is a tragedy, the comfort and professional support the Canadian people have given us will stay in our hearts forever."
The former University of Southern Queensland student had been canoeing with a friend in Georgian Bay in Ontario when it capsized last Thursday.
A friend, 25, from Windsor, with whom he was canoeing, managed to swim to shore after the raft capsized.
Mr Zeller's death is not considered suspicious.