Moving farewell during COVID-19 funeral restrictions after teen's sudden death

It was midday on Monday, April 20.

Martin Vogt, Buster’s father, had asked family and friends to hold their breath for 30 seconds at exactly 12pm, with the idea being that as they released air, they were letting Buster go, The West Australian reported today.

Buster took his dog, Buddy, for a walk in Yangebup in Perth’s south on April 1.

A retired paramedic found the 14-year-old lying unresponsive in the street and he could not be revived.

His father said he had a previously undiagnosed heart defect.

Buster is being remembered as a beautiful soul. Picture: Diana SimichSource:Facebook

He played for a football club in Perth. Picture: Murdoch University Melville Football Club

He played for a football club in Perth. Picture: Murdoch University Melville Football ClubSource:Facebook

Due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, the teenager and Year 9 Emmanuel Catholic College student could not be farewelled at a large, public service.

Since late March, the week before he died, funerals in Australia have been limited to no more than 10 people.

“We were glad we had the peace on Monday to just sit and look over the cemetery and know the cremation was happening,” Mr Vogt told the newspaper.

Elsewhere at midday, Buster’s teammates from Murdoch University Melville Football Club took to their backyards, courtyards and porches with a soccer ball as he was laid to rest.

The young boys juggled for 30 seconds to the tune of You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry & The Pacemakers.

“Forever in our hearts, RIP,” the club’s tribute video to their “much loved friend and team member” states.

“Rest east buddy.”

He started when he was six. Picture: Murdoch University Melville Football Club

He started when he was six. Picture: Murdoch University Melville Football ClubSource:Facebook

The club’s John Teixeira said he was fortunate to have coached the young man “with a heart of gold” since the age of six.

“Buster was a passionate and talented footballer, a kind boy with a beautiful soul,” he said.

“We will look to dedicate and honour Buster in some way when we are able to come together once again.”

Mr Vogt said his son’s closest friends also held a memorial service on the video platform Zoom.

“Basically it was just the kids telling funny stories about him which was really beautiful,” he told The West Australian.

He shared a photo on Facebook of his son standing in front of a painted mural with wings, accompanied with the message: “If I can leave you with just one thought, ‘Just be a good friend’. Buster x”.

Mr Vogt said he wanted it sent “to the whole world”.

“We’d love this to pop up everywhere – a friend is an amazing gift and we all need to keep the special ones. Blessed.”

His father shared this post. Picture: Martin Vogt

His father shared this post. Picture: Martin VogtSource:Facebook

Mr Vogt told Seven they had spoken to Buster recently about what was important to him.

He said the support and feedback from the community showed his son “was so truly loved by so many”.

“As parents you just love your kids but the heartbreak that has flowed through the community the last few days has been a wave of grief,” he said in a statement.

Also on Facebook, Diana Simich said they will miss the “beautiful boy” who had “collapsed unexpectedly”.

“RIP Buster, we’ll miss your light at the family birthdays and special occasions,” she wrote.

Emmanuel Catholic College principal Leo Di Gregorio said the school community was deeply saddened by Buster’s sudden and unexplained passing, noting the 14-year-old will be “greatly missed” by his teachers and friends.

Buster is survived by his parents, Martin Vogt and Zoe Haddrell, and his sister Millie.


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