Heartbreak over loss of foster son
THE Zietlow family did its best to express grief beyond words yesterday, acknowledging the death of their Kenyan foster son Samuel Mwangi Macharia.
The talented soccer player, who would have turned 17 on Tuesday, drowned off Cabarita Beach on Sunday.
He was gentle, generous and grateful to everyone who met him - at school, on the football field and at home.
His body was found on the beach at Salt on Thursday after an exhaustive five-day land and sea search.
Samuel, an orphan, came to Australia in 2006 as part of a Tweed Shire Council mentoring program.
Bernie and Sandra Zietlow took him in as a son and brother to Ricky, Kurt and Ryan.
Supported by his family, Mr Zietlow fought the lump in his throat to read a prepared statement yesterday.
"Words can't express our grief at losing our beautiful son Sam," Mr Zietlow said.
"Sam's infectious smile, gentle nature and massive capacity to give love were impossible to resist.
"After such a tragic life in Kenya it was inspirational to watch Sam's dedication to his studies and his love, mastery and pursuit of a professional career in football.
"A small boy from Kenya, Samuel Mwangi Macharia Zietlow came into our lives and touched the hearts of everyone he met forever.
"We love you Sammy."
Mr Zietlow said both his family and Samuel's relatives in Kenya were thankful to everyone involved in the search.
Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, where Samuel had just completed his Year 10 school certificate, is providing ongoing support for students and teachers.
Principal Chris Duncan described Sam as having "a smile that could light up a city".