Friends pay tribute to 'gentle giant' killed when ute exploded

A young man killed in a ute explosion in Far North Queensland is being remembered as a “beautiful” son.

Brandon Stephensen, 22, died when his stepfather’s ute exploded in Edmonton, Cairns on Tuesday, The Cairns Post reported.

He was trapped inside the vehicle as it became engulfed in flames with his stepfather, who was working at a nearby property, trying desperately to free him.

Friends have rallied around Brandon’s mother Athena and her devastated family, with friend Bernadette Young setting up a GoFundMe page to give Brandon “the send off he deserves”.

“My beautiful friend lost her son in a terrible accident in Cairns on Tuesday, and now she is living every mother's worst nightmare,” she wrote.

Brandon Stephensen has been remembered as a "beautiful" son. Source: GoFundMe

Brandon was the eldest child in the family, with his younger brother and sister both shocked by his unexpected death.

“He died so suddenly that we are all struggling to come to grips with it, I can't begin to think what it is like for them,” Ms Young said.

“This woman raised a beautiful boy, who struggled through life with a quiet dignity, always looking out for his mum and little brother and sister.”

Family friend Sarah Magee told The Cairns Post Brandon was a “gentle giant”.

Footage from the scene shows firefighters responding to the ute. Source: ABC

“He would do anything for anybody. He was extremely close to his mum,” she said.

“He was a typical 22-year-old who loved being with his family. He was just helping his stepdad out, helping where he could.”

Dozens have since left their condolences to the family on the fundraising page which has so far raised $4900.

“I’m so sorry for you loss, Athena. My heart absolutely breaks for you. This is something no mother should go through,” one person wrote.

It is not yet known how the ute exploded with police investigations into the death continuing.

Brandon’s stepfather, whose landscaping business has also been destroyed with the ute explosion, suffered significant trauma after he was unable to save his stepson at the scene, Ms Young added.

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