A Perth dad who “miraculously” survived the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 has reportedly been stabbed to death in Thailand over a pay dispute with his ex-employee’s husband.
Whilst celebrating his birthday on Sunday, Peter Heppell was allegedly attacked at his own restaurant, Melina’s Monkey House and Whale Bar in Krabi, which was named after his six-month-old daughter who died in the tsunami almost 20 years ago.
“We are devastated to post that Peter’s life was taken suddenly and violently on his 57th birthday in Krabi, Thailand,” his sister Karen Bormolini wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “Our hearts are breaking [but he is] now reunited with baby Melina.”
It’s believed Peter was assaulted with a knife by the husband of a former employee, 9 News reports. The 24-year-old Thai man is reportedly in police custody.
Sister pays tribute to ‘larger than life’ brother
Peter’s death has rocked his family and friends.
"He survived motor bike accidents and miraculously the Boxing Day Tsunami!" his sister Karen said.
She added that her family is “so grateful” that they were able to spend time with him recently.
“Peter will be remembered as a larger than life character, who walked to the beat of his drum and lived life to the fullest,” she said. “Peter loved his daughter Aly, the ocean, beer, footy and Thailand.”
Former teammates remember ‘a bloody good bloke’
As a keen sportsman, Peter is also being remembered by football clubs he played with.
“The Thailand Tigers are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Peter ‘Whale’ Heppell,” the AFL club wrote on Facebook. “Our thoughts are with his daughter Aly, his family and all his friends.
“We have such wonderful memories of Whale. As one of the original Tigers, he has been a great friend to Tigers old and new. His love for the Tigers was second only to that of his family. Rest in peace Whale. The Tigers are poorer for your loss.”
Back home in Perth, memories of Peter still hold strong.
“The North Beach Football Club is saddened to learn about the passing of Peter Heppell,” it said online, adding that Peter had played 90 games for the club between 1985 and 1990. “A larger than life character on and off the field. Condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace.”
While former teammates said they would “fondly remember” the Aussie restaurateur.
“Legend of a fella, could drink with the best of them,” one commented. “I remember Peter as an electrifying wingman who always had a smile on his face or was laughing,” another said.
“Bloody good bloke, absolute legend teammate and lifelong mate,” a third added, while someone else added that “no one should go like that”,
“[It’s a] sad day for everyone involved,” they wrote.
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