N.B. boys killed by python were like 'little superheroes,' friends say at funeral
Published Saturday, August 10, 2013 7:16AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 10, 2013 11:38PM EDT
Mourners gathered in Campbellton, N.B. Saturday to honour two young brothers who were tragically killed by an African rock python.
Hundreds filed into St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church for a funeral service for Noah Barthe, 4, and Connor Barthe, 6.
The brothers were laid to rest together in a light blue casket that was placed at the front of the church. Bouquets of flowers surrounded a photo of the smiling boys.
Rev. Maurice Frenette presided over the service and described Noah and Connor as inseparable brothers who loved video games and playing outdoors.
He offered words of comfort to the boys’ parents.
“No one here can feel what you feel but I’m sure everyone here feels for you,” he said.
He added later: “On behalf of Connor and Noah … thank you to both of you for the love you have for your two boys,” he said. “Maybe they had a short life, but they had a happy life and you are a big part of that.”
In a eulogy delivered by family friends Melissa Ellis and Nadine Poirier, Connor was described as a protective older brother, and Noah as quiet.
Connor was wise beyond his years and an adventurer who gave big bear hugs, they said.
“He saw only the good in people and even if he was having a rough day, he’d tell you had a good one,” Poirier said.
Noah was looking forward to joining his older brother at school this fall as he prepared to enter kindergarten. He told his preschool teacher he was going to be a basketball player when he grew up.
“If you asked anyone at daycare who their best friend was, Noah was the answer,” Poirier said. “Noah was our super-sensitive baby boy. He was so easy to make laugh out loud and easy to shed tears.”
Despite their different personalities, the boys shared a special bond.
“Each of them needed to be near each other,” Ellis said. “Like a little team of superheroes here to make this world a little brighter for us.”
Earlier Saturday, Frenette said there are no words to describe the pain the boys' family is going through.
Frenette said it was not the time to point fingers.
"We're not here today to make any judgment or to try to find an answer to the inquiry, but we are here to take a pause and to be with the family," he said.
"Today we want to basically be there for them and tell them of all the love we will try to share with them during this time of sorrow."
The boys' mother requested the brothers be buried together because they were inseparable in life, CTV's Atlantic Bureau Chief Todd Battis said.
The boys were found dead in an apartment early Monday morning after a 100-pound African rock python escaped its enclosure, entered the ventilation system and fell through the ceiling into the room where they were sleeping, police said.
Early autopsy results show that the boys were asphyxiated by the snake.
The brothers were sleeping over at their friend's apartment, which is located above Reptile Ocean exotic pet store. Their friend's father, Jean-Claude Savoie, is the owner of the store.
Provincial officials say the African rock python involved in this case was not permitted in New Brunswick.
On Friday, officials removed 23 reptiles from the store that are banned in the province without a permit. Four American alligators were also euthanized on site.
Bruce Dougan, the manager of the Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton, N.B., said the alligators were euthanized because no accredited zoos were willing to take in the animals.
But some ex-employees of the store and friends of Savoie said other options should have been pursued before the alligators were killed.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended his condolences to the grieving family Friday during a stop in New Brunswick. He said the federal government will review the case to determine whether it should look into the regulation of exotic pet shops.
Comeau said Campbellton and other municipalities should wait until the police investigation into the deaths concludes before any decisions are made on pet shop regulations.
"I know it is something that will be on the agendas of many, many municipalities ... looking at what can be done to prevent such a tragedy," he told The Canadian Press.
With files from The Canadian Press