Family’s tears for tourist shot dead in Argentina park

‘Broken up’: Nicholas Heywood’s family is struggling to come to terms with his death. ‘Citizen of the world’: Nicholas Heywood.
Nanjing Night Net

The Australian family of a tourist who was shot dead in a botched robbery in Argentina has paid tribute to the 31-year-old, who has been remembered as a “good man” with a bold and adventurous spirit.

Nicholas Heyward had spent the past year in Central and South America, where he had spent his time teaching English, volunteering and enjoying surfing, bushwalking and rock-climbing.

But the physiotherapist’s year-long adventure came to a devastating end in the Argentinian city of Mendoza, where two men on a motorcycle tried to snatch his video camera in a daring daylight robbery in a popular park.

Mr Heyward fell to the ground and was shot four times by the bandits, who then fled on their motorcycle.

The shooting occurred just before 4pm on Monday as Mr Heyward was walking with two other tourists, an Australian woman and a French man, near Malvinas Argentinas stadium in General San Martin Park.

Police said Mr Heyward was shot in the torso, stomach, sternum and neck, while a fifth shot missed him. He died at the scene.

Mr Heyward was born in Australia but his mother was from New Zealand, and he was travelling on a New Zealand passport. The second oldest of three boys, he had grown up in Adelaide before moving to Lismore in NSW to study at Southern Cross University.

He was on the last leg of his overseas journey and had planned to return to Australia shortly.

Mr Heyward’s father, Ben, said from his home in Adelaide that the family was struggling to come to terms with their sudden loss.

“We’re just crying, really. Just crying. Uncles and aunts in New Zealand, cousins whom he was very close to – we’re just broken up,” he said.

“He [Nicholas] got a lot out of life. But always enriching other people when he did it.

“He was a bold spirit, loved music, and a good man. He was a good listener, a great encourager and loved his brothers, family and friends.

“He loved creation. He was a citizen of the world.”

Ben Heyward said the family was now awaiting instructions from the New Zealand high commission in Canberra. If identification of the body was required, Nicholas Heyward’s younger brother Stefan, who was overseas on a surfing trip, would go to Argentina.

“We’ve already made a decision we want to bring the body back here to South Australia for burial,” Ben Heyward said.

“How that happens and how long it takes, we don’t know … But at the moment we’re just staying put and waiting. We don’t know what we have to do next.”

Stefan also paid tribute to his older brother on Facebook.

“To my brother Nick,” he wrote.

“The loss of you will echo through my heart forever. From our youth as you as my elder and idol in the backyard to our travels abroad exploring, surfing and living life I could not have asked for a better brother. Though time may dim the pain my thoughts will always drift back to remember the truly great person of [utmost] character and quality you were. With love always your little bro.”

Members of the Lismore Swans Football Club were also reeling at the loss of their former club member.

“The Lismore Swans Football Club is saddened by the news that a former player Nick Heyward was a victim of a shooting in Argentina today,” the club said in a statement.

“Heyward played 31 games for the Swans & was The Rising Star winner in 2006. He also was 3rd Runner Up in the Best & Fairest that same year. A true gentleman & a Swannie for life. Our thoughts go out to Nick’s family.”

Initial reports in Argentina suggested the offenders were aged about 20.

Police were scouring the neighbourhood of La Favorita in Mendoza, where the offenders are believed to have fled.

The Argentinian Security Ministry has offered a reward of 40,000 pesos ($5400) for information leading to their arrest.

Public prosecutor Santiago Garay, from the Mendoza police complex crimes unit, said: “We have some good suspects … but we don’t have them [in custody].”

He said time was “very tight” as the two main witnesses, the Australian and French tourists, were planning to leave Argentina soon.

A police officer in Mendoza told Fairfax Media that the attack was an isolated incident, but that there were areas of the city that tourists should steer clear of – including parts of General San Martin Park where Mr Heyward died.

– with Megan Levy

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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