News National Tributes for father of three killed in Fiji

Tributes for father of three killed in Fiji

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Authorities in Fiji have arrested the driver of a fishing boat which crashed into another vessel, killing a Sydney father of three on holiday with his family.

Mark Hardaker, 40, from Toongabbie in Sydney’s west, was killed last Thursday when, witnesses say, he was struck in the head by the fishing boat which smashed into his vessel at high speed near Mana Island.

A Fijian West police spokesman told AAP on Monday that the 33-year-old driver of the other boat had been arrested.

He was charged with manslaughter, negligence and operating without a licence.

Witnesses, including Australian Nick McGee who was on the same boat as Mr Hardaker, said the boat which collided with their vessel appeared to be overloaded.

“They were speeding very fast and I asked the driver if he saw us and he said, `No, there were so many people in my boat I couldn’t see out the front’,” Mr McGee told NewsCorp Australia.

Mr Hardaker had been in Fiji to celebrate his wife’s 40th birthday, and had gone on a fishing trip with a group of other men.

The party were on their way back to the Mana Island Resort, where Mr Hardaker’s wife Vanessa and three children were waiting, when the crash occurred.

They have returned to Australia.

Tributes from his family have been posted on social media, with Mr Hardaker’s sister-in-law, Alana Rice, describing him as a devoted father.

“My sister was there for her 40th (birthday) celebrations … and is now flying home alone with 3 children,” she posted on Facebook (sic).

“Mark is the most amazing thoughtful selfless person I will ever know in my life.”

Mr Hardaker’s step-mother Gay Bookallil said the family was “absolutely devastated”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the family of a 40-year-old NSW man had received consular assistance.