Lover’s horror at unspeakable tragedy
Jake Ryan is being remembered as a larger than life character and a true gentleman after he died while on holiday in Europe.
The well-known local footy figure, who played in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, and worked as a coach at the Gold Coast Suns Academy, was reportedly out jogging while wearing headphones in Noto, on the island of Sicily, when he was hit by a train.
The driver stopped the train and reportedly tried to revive Ryan, 39, but his injuries were too grave.
His death has sparked an avalanche of tributes on social media, including from Kimberly Driedger, who spent two months with Ryan as he embarked on a dream tour of North America and Europe while working remotely for a real estate website.
"How do I say goodbye … Seeing your face and hearing your voice every day for the past 2 months … how do we get back to that?" Driedger wrote.
"We were meant to have so much more time together … to play one more game of Go Fish. To spend Christmas in Portugal together. To laugh with each other and smile just once more.
"Mi Amor, please come back. I need you, so I can smile again. So that we can fulfil all the beautiful things we talked about together.
"You were the sweetest, most considerate, the truest gentleman of all. You were so special. You showed me how to love again. I miss you. My double rainbow. Thank you for blessing my soul with your love. They don't make many of you."
Ryan was a survivor of the Bali bombings. He'd reflected on the 2002 tragedy, which occurred while he was on holiday in Kuta with his brother, Mitch, on social media this week.
"Eighteen years … a lifetime ago … yet seems like yesterday," he said in a Facebook post on Monday.
"You reflect back and I just think how lucky we were to get home. Some weren't.
"Our love, prayers, thoughts and support with you and your families today. For us lucky ones that got home … forever thankful.
"Being on the trip I'm on at the moment is a perfect reminder of how lucky I am.
"Why you have to have a crack every day, do as much as you can, and live as much of a life as you can."
Mitch told 7 NEWS his brother had lived life to the fullest.
"His whole life's been about squeezing every drop out of the lemon," Mitch said.
"And there was nothing left in it. He squeezed everything. He did everything he wanted to.
"The world stopped because of the pandemic and no one could travel. And Jake did.
"Nothing would ever stop him at anything."
Two of Ryan's former footy clubs and many of his friends posted messages on Wednesday night.
"We are deeply saddened to hear that Jake Ryan has passed away," the Southport Sharks wrote on Facebook.
"We would like to express our sincere condolences to Jake's family and friends."
The Surfers Paradise Demons described Ryan as a "great club man".
"Sad day today as we lost one of the best! RIP great man Jake Ryan. Never met a bloke to live life harder or better than him," Josh Willatt added on Facebook.
Chris Helder wrote: "RIP to my friend Jake Ryan. Bali bombing survivor, footballer, man who lived his time to the fullest. His story was amazing. Lots of bro love for this guy and many big nights at the events we did together. Life cut too short."
Nathan Partridge also paid tribute: "Shattered to hear that we lost one of the most beautiful blokes in the world today. You lived life to the fullest champ, you were an inspiration to us all. We'll miss you mate!!"
Stephen Hicks described him as a "good bloke and friend", and a great sportsman.
"Shattered at his passing. A massive loss," he said.
Originally published as Lover's horror at unspeakable tragedy