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The Tragic Death of Brendon Pyle

 May 2011 

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In Romans 12:15, it says to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. For our family the month of May has been a month of both of those emotions.

Brendon Pyle

Our family spent most of May in Singapore and the Philippines attending a Navigators Discipleship Consultation and taking workshops for parents desiring to pray and share with their children. It was a wonderful time for our family.

But while we were in the Manila Airport on 19th May we heard the shocking news that our nephew and cousin Brendon Pyle had had an accident in Antibes, France and was on life support. On the 23rd May he was pronounced brain dead and the life support was turned off.

His death has been devastating for his family and also for the wider Pyle and Waugh (Noelene's family) families. Because of this, I want to focus on this tragic event for May's newsletter. For the June newsletter, I am intending to write about our time in Singapore and the Philippines.

Kevin, Noelene & Brendon

Brendon, aged 28, was the eldest son of Kevin and Noelene Pyle. He had two siblings - Jonathan and Amy.

I come from a family of 9 children and Kevin was the youngest in our family. We were a close knit family growing up and my siblings are all Christians.

Kevin and Noelene have been very committed Christians and from 1990 to 1997, they served with the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society in Bangladesh. This was a very special time in Brendon's life. For his schooling over there he attended the Hebron School in India. He greatly loved his time at Hebron. I can remember when they came home on furlough to New Zealand (NZ) in 1992. Brendon could hardly wait to get back to Hebron where he had made many close friends.

Noelene, Brendon & Amy

The family returned to NZ in 1997 and settled in Warkworth where Kevin became a builder. Brendon loved boating and surfing. Four years ago he got a job in the Mediterranean working on a Super Yacht. He loved his work and made many close friends.

It was a very unfortunate accident. He and another friend were doing a stunt, something our sons could easily have done. Brendon and his friend tried to ride down a flight of stairs in a wheelie bin (rubbish bin). The other young man was uninjured but Brendon however was knocked unconscious. He possibly died at the scene as someone gave him CPR when he was found to have no pulse. A defibrillator was used to get his heart going and he was put on life support.

Kevin and Noelene took a flight to France and were there the next day. Jonathan and Amy unfortunately arrived the day after Brendon died.

It was when Kevin and Noelene got to France that they realized just how greatly loved Brendon was over there. His work mates and friends were grief stricken. Father Ken, the Anglican Arch Deacon of France, who lived in Nice, was a great help to the family as he could speak English. He was originally from Australia, but had been in France for 22 years.

Brendon & Jonathan

Father Ken prayed with them, and committed Brendon to the Lord before the life support was turned off. He took a very special memorial service for Brendon in Nice, which is about 20 minutes by car from the seaside resort of Antibes, where the accident happened.

On Monday 6th June, a very moving funeral service was held in NZ at Warkworth. It was held in the Mahurangi College Hall, as the church Brendon grew up in could not hold the 500 plus people in attendance.

It was a wonderful service taken by Pastor David Fredrickson, who had been Brendon's youth pastor years before. Many people shared about the impact that Brendon had on peoples' lives. Brendon had a very striking personality. He always seemed to have a smile on his face and everyone he came in contact with felt loved and accepted by him. One of my memories of him will be his wonderful smile.

Brendon & Noelene

For a number of years Brendon had not been very close to God, but about five years ago, he had an experience with God, which made him realize how real God is. During his work on boats Brendon was usually with people most of the time. On this one occasion, however, he was on a fishing boat, fishing for tuna with only the skipper on board. They didn't catch many tuna, but in the quietness, apart from other people, Brendon heard God speaking to him. This really touched him and at this point he recommitted his life to the Lord and had been growing closer to Him since.

Brendon's death is causing unbelievable grief in the life of his family. Also grieving are his large number of relatives and a great number of friends he had made on a global scale. He will leave a huge gap in our lives and will never be forgotten.

At times like this it makes me realize how precious and important families are. They are important to God as the whole of the Bible greatly emphasizes families. When we belong to God we become part of God's family. I firmly believe that Brendon was part of God's family and look forward to seeing him again one day.

While in France, some of his surfing friends conducted a ceremony called a "Paddle Out" to remember him.

Tribute to Brendon Pyle. About 70 surfers did a "paddle out" at Matheson Bay.

This involved them swimming out at sunrise with their surf boards, forming a circle, throwing flowers in the middle and sharing memories of Brendon.

His family repeated this ceremony in NZ and about 150 people gathered at a beach while it was still dark. About 70 people swam out with their surf boards and formed a very large circle and shared memories of Brendon. Along with roses they also threw hot chilies into the circle as Brendon really loved his hot spicy food which he gained a taste for in his Bangladesh years.


On Monday 13th June, Christchurch had another large aftershock which has caused extensive damage. The emotional toll of the aftershocks of the large earthquake in February (see February newsletter) has been terrible and with this further large aftershock, this will escalate. Many people are leaving the city and are going to other parts of New Zealand or to Australia. We need to keep praying for ones who are experiencing great hardship, especially those people who are part of God's family.

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