Sister’s touching tribute after water skier Luke Wentworth killed on NSW-Victoria border

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The sister of a man tragically killed during the popular Southern 80 watersport event on the NSW-Victoria border on Sunday has made a touching tribute.

Luke Wentworth was killed less than an hour into the annual event on the Murray River, near Moama, forcing organisers to scuttle the popular competition.

The Melbourne man’s death is understood to be the seventh associated with the decades-old ski event, and triggered an outpouring of grief from family and friends.

“It is with a very heavy heart and deep sadness that I can confirm that my brother Luke was killed this morning in a ski accident while racing,” sister Bree McNair said.

“Our family are absolutely devastated and trying to come to terms with the sudden and tragic loss of our beloved son, brother, brother in law and uncle.

“Our hearts are broken not only for our family but for the whole Gassa Ski race team and we ask for your privacy and understanding at this very emotional and hard time.”

Melani Moore said that while she had only known Mr Wentworth for a “short time”, he’d made an impact on her life and that of her son.

“We thank him for everything and will miss him dearly. He was an amazing guy,” she said.

Emily Kate added: “Our hearts are so broken with the loss of Luke. Life will never be the same again. We miss you already.”

In a Facebook post, Gassa Ski Race Team said they “only have sad news at the moment” and urged people to be mindful and help support the team.

While Mr Wentworth is still ye to be formally identified, news of the tragic accident spread quickly throughout the watersport community.

“Such a ripper bloke, he and that smile will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with you all,” Troy Jefferies said, on behalf of the Venom Ski Racing Team.

Dave McCallum, from Lab Ski Race Team, said: “Very sad day in the ski racing family today. We lost one of our family doing what he loved.

“Condolences to his family and god speed … thoughts and prayers with the family in this tragic time.”

The Dog House Ski Racing team said: “From our team to yours our hearts and thoughts go to you guys if there’s anything we can do please reach out”.

Fans of the Gassa Ski Race Team and the sport broadly also expressed their condolences.

“I’m a wife & mum of ski racing addicts & my heart goes out to Luke’s community,” Donna Robertson said.

“Praying for peace & comfort in knowing he was doing something he was passionate about.”

Ben Datson added: “Don’t know you guys, but have followed the team for so many years.

“RIP legend, may the water always be like glass when you ski the rivers above.”

Echua local Grant Mitchell said he would miss seeing Mr Wentworth at race events.

“Always had a smile on your face no matter what was happening. The world was better with you in it,” he said.

The annual race event involves two skiers racing down the 80km course and around 126 bens at speeds exceeding 100km.

In a statement, Moama Water Sports Club president Steve Shipp said the skier, who was competing in the race, fell and could not be revived.

“Racing was immediately suspended and since been cancelled,” Mr Shipp said.

“The club is co-operating with NSW Police and Transport for NSW – Maritime, in their investigation into the incident.

“As a ski racing family we are here to support the affected family and team members as well the wider ski racing community in this terribly sad time.”

Moama Chief Inspector Paul Haggett said emergency services from both Victoria and NSW responded to reports that a male skier in his early 40s had “come down”.

While investigations were in their infancy, Mr Haggett reportedly denied allegations a swimmer in the river may have caused the crash or that low water levels were to blame.

“They affect all of the community from the emergency services to the bloke who runs the fish and chip shop,” he said.

“This will affect the community for months to come, long after everyone has gone home.”

Officers attached to Murray River Police District have since commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

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