Doting Waikato father of nine killed in Taranaki truck crash

2019-06-11 21:02:43

A truck driver killed in a Taranaki crash was a doting father of nine who would "give his last cent" to someone struggling, a friend says.

Jason Steve Cooper, 36, died in the single truck crash on State Highway 3 in Mimi this month.

He left behind his partner of 16 years, along with nine children and step-children.

Family friend Terry-Lee Herbert said no-one spoke about Cooper without mentioning his "infectious smile".

"No matter where they met him they'd meet him with that smile."

Herbert has set up a Givealittle page to help Cooper's grieving family, who have lost their main income provider.

"His children had him wrapped around their fingers," Herbert said. "He did anything for his kids."

The family had moved to Hamilton nine months ago after Cooper's wife, Corrie, landed a new nursing position.

Cooper loved his job as a truck driver and was a huge part of the trucking community, no matter where he was in the country, Herbert said.

He'd been working for Regal Group, which made a tribute video for Cooper, of trucks with their lights on, along with messages from fellow truck drivers.

Cooper's sudden death had left a lot of people heartbroken, Herbert said.

He'd been a humble, loyal and kind-hearted friend, who would give his last cent to "help others even if he was struggling himself".

In fact, his family recently found out that he'd even been supporting a friend and their children, Herbert said.

"That's just the kind of guy that he was. Anyone that was in need, at the drop of a hat he would help. Even if he didn't have the resources, he'd try help anyway."

Herbert remembers when her partner - a close friend of Cooper's - had lost a lot of weight and didn't have many clothes that fit properly.

"Jason just pulls out a whole box of clothes and goes, 'here you go my bro', just out of the blue."

Friends recall his favourite phrase as "it's all good, man, it's all good".

He and his wife had been a loving team since they met in the early 2000s through a flatmate, Herbert said.

"He would say to her everyday, I knew you were the one from the moment I saw your picture on my flatmate's fridge."

After a service in Whākatāne, close family and friends had gathered on the beach, with his children saying how much they missed their dad.

"[My partner] told them let's go make a bonfire and if you see a star in the sky that's your dad saying he's still here."

Halfway through the night, the group saw lanterns glowing at the other end of the beach.

"That was a really cool sign."

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