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‘Kind, strong’ Hillcrest victim farewelled

Jumping castle accident Tasmania
Family and classmates have paid tribute to Zane Mellor, one of the six students who died in a tragic jumping castle accident. Photo: AAP
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Zane Mellor, one of the six victims of a jumping castle accident in north-west Tasmania, was kind, strong and his mum’s “man of the house”.

Family and loved ones gathered on Thursday morning in Devonport to farewell the 12-year-old, one week since the Hillcrest Primary School tragedy.

“I was so young when I had you, only 15, and now I know why,” Zane’s mother Georgie Mellor said during her tearful tribute at the funeral.

“You grew up with me, held my hands and kissed my face in all the hard times.

“You were my man of the house always, my protector, my strength, my gamer.

“I love you Zane. No matter what the weather, we’re together.”

hillcrest devonport tragedy
Zane Mellor (bottom left) was one of six grade five and six students killed last week. Photos: Tasmanian Police

Zane was remembered as an avid gamer who connected with friends from around the world under the nickname ‘Jurassic Zane’, which referred to his love of dinosaurs.

Ms Mellor said he knew every dinosaur name and what period they came from. She and many others wore Jurassic Park shirts in Zane’s honour on Thursday.

A letter from Zane’s grandfather recounted a fishing trip off the north-west Tasmanian town of Stanley where they were surrounded by dolphins.

His aunt described him as “kind and strong”.

“He lived life to the fullest and wasn’t afraid to show the world who he really was,” she said.

“I watched you take your first step … you were my gaming buddy. You will never be far from our minds.”

Messages from Zane’s classmates and teachers were also shared.

“I loved your personality, every day you would put a smile on my face,” one school friend wrote.

Celebrant Tracey Bruce said Zane had a love of animals and was known fondly as the chicken and cat whisperer.

Ms Bruce said Zane had challenges in life, with ADHD and autism, but his quirks made him the character he was.

Streams of people have continued to leave flowers, soft toys and words of support outside the primary school in the days since last week’s jumping castle tragedy.

Funerals for several of the other young victims – all aged 11 or 12 –  will be held in Devonport in the coming week.

Two boys injured in the incident remain in hospital. Their condition had steadily improved from critical to stable, Premier Peter Gutwein said in Hobart on Thursday.

“I understand they have been moved out of the ICU,” he said.

One other student injured in the accident is recovering at home.

About 40 children were enjoying end-of-year celebrations at the primary school when a freak gust of wind picked up the jumping castle and several inflatable zorb balls.

Police, including specialist officers from NSW, have started interviewing the many young witnesses of the accident, which will be examined by the coroner.

An online fundraising page set up by Devonport local Zoe Smith has raised more than $1.4 million for the families.

The Glenorchy City Council in southern Tasmania has banned jumping castles and inflatable devices being used on council-owned property.

Tasmania’s education department has put a stop to inflatable equipment being used on school sites.

– AAP