Former NRL star Issac Luke’s father has been confirmed as the ninth victim of Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand.
Gabrielle has been making its way across the country, affecting both the North and South Islands which have been subject to wild weather events over the past week.
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George Luke and his partner Mau Goodman were traveling home to Hastings via a winding road across the Kaweka Ranges on Monday night when they ran into trouble.
Bad weather closed the Napier-Taupo road and the couple never made it home.
Fearing the worst after not hearing from them, the family immediately activated a search party and took to social media to ask for information.
They were eventually found on Thursday and flown in separate helicopters to Hawke’s Bay Hospital in Hastings, where Luke later tragically died.
Goodman is recovering from her injuries.
Former Bronco, Rabbitoh and New Zealand Rep Issac expressed his heartbreak in a heartbreaking Facebook post.
“Broken,” he wrote. “My first HERO. See you soon dad. I love you.”
George Luke was involved with local New Zealand rugby league club, the Hawera Hawks, who offered their condolences to Luke ‘whanau’, which means ‘extended family’ in Maori.
“It is with a heavy heart that we send our deepest condolences to our Luke Whanau on the death of our Totara tree, George Luke,” the Hawks wrote.
“No words can express our heartbreak at this sad time, you touched the hearts of all of us and always encouraged us to keep doing our best.
“You were always her (sic) to guide us, a father, brother, Koro uncle, mentor and friend. We will miss you very much.
“To George’s beautiful children Kia Kaha, our thoughts and love are with you all.
“Fly high with your beautiful wings and wrap them around your children to protect them and embrace them with your love.”
After he was found and flown to the hospital, his son Issac looked forward to his call.
“I am waiting for your call. No doubt everyone is trying to reach you,” he wrote.
“We love you.”
https://7news.com.au/sport/rugby-league/new-zealand-rugby-league-great-issac-lukes-father-becomes-ninth-casualty-of-cyclone-gabrielle-c-9790137 The father of New Zealand NRL Rugby League great Issac Luke becomes the ninth victim of Cyclone Gabrielle