Former College pupil killed in Canada

2010-07-30 00:00

A FORMER Maritzburg College pupil, Dean Duchenne (22), was killed by lightning last week while working as a farmhand on a ranch in southern Alberta, Canada.

The son of Dennis and Diane Duchenne of Ballito, Dean was reportedly with two friends putting up fencing at Sears Ranches’ Beaver Camp north-west of Stavely last Thursday evening when a storm rolled in, cutting short their work, according to an article published in the Calgary Herald.

Duchenne was reportedly struck by lightning as the trio headed back to their work truck.

His aunt, Trish Stone, told The Witness yesterday his family is “absolutely devastated” by his sudden death.

“He was one of those kids who touched everyone’s lives.

“He was blessed with a gift for making people feel wonderful …

“He lived every day like it was his last and he should have no regrets.”

Stone said that in his final school year Duchenne received the Charles Taylor award for winning the “friendship, loyalty, respect and admiration of his peers” and genuine popularity.

Duchenne studied social sciences at Rhodes University.

He was also a keen sportsman and at one time played water polo for Border.

He also leaves two sisters, Claire and Jan.

Jan Duchenne said yesterday her brother had gone over to Canada last December “to experience life” and had liked it so much that he had extended his stay.

“He was originally supposed to come back home in June, but had decided to stay on until September this year,”she said.

While in Canada he also worked at a ski resort and saw the Winter Olympics, which he had found very exciting, she added.

Arrangements are being made to have Duchenne’s body flown to South Africa for the funeral.

The family said the funeral arrangements have not been finalised.

According to the Calgary Herald, a friend walking beside Duchenne when the lightning bolt struck was injured and briefly knocked unconscious.

One of Duchenne’s companions performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Duchenne until help arrived.

He was taken to High River hospital and later transferred to Calgary’s Foothills, but died the following morning.

The newspaper quoted Duchenne’s ranch boss, Jeff Sears, describing him as a fast learner and hard worker.

“He was very, very outgoing,and everybody who met him enjoyed him and liked him,” said Sears.

The paper said the crew had been following safety procedures by stopping work during the thunderstorm.

“They did everything right; that’s what’s so frustrating,”said Sears.

Maritzburg College headmaster Ron Jury sent a letter of condolence to Duchenne’s parents.

In the letter he said the staff at the school remember Dean Duchenne as “one of the most popular boys with his peers that we have had at the college in a while”.

He said the school honoured Duchenne’s memory with a moment’s silence at assembly.

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