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Browns Bay bus tragedy: Stranger’s act of kindness gives comfort to family of 12-year-old killed in accident

Mary Afemata

Stranger's act of kindness gives comfort to family of 12 year-old killed in accident

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A white cross bearing Matthew Taylor’s name stands near the Browns Bay bus stop where he died in 2000.

Matthew’s mother Debbie Taylor says, as unusual as it may sound, the cross has given her comfort in the 23 years since her son was killed.

Matthew was 12 when he died in May 2000 after his backpack got caught in the doors of a “bendy” bus and he fell under a rear wheel.

The bus driver was found guilty of careless driving causing death and failing to stop after an accident.

A few months ago, Matthew’s cross - which has become a Browns Bay landmark - vanished.

“I thought once it was gone, this last time I was just going to leave it,” Taylor says.

Usually, her husband Lex would replace the cross, which has disappeared several times over the years.

However, a brain injury means he has gone into a care home “and can’t do that sort of thing anymore”.

A random act of kindness from a stranger, though, has seen the cross replaced.

Matthew Scott Taylor who was killed in May 2000 aged 12 when he was getting off his school bus. Photo / Supplied

Taylor is overwhelmed by the kindness that the Browns Bay community has shown her family, which has been through a tough time after Lex’s brain injury.

“That’s been really hard and sad. So to have something positive like this has just given us all a lift that we actually really badly needed.”

The person who replaced Matthew’s cross has messaged Taylor. They do not want to be identified.

“A mum and her two children often walk past and they noticed that the cross has gone, which has happened before,” Taylor says.

“She asked her dad if he would make a new one so he very kindly did that.”

Lex Taylor had concreted the last cross in, so that it wouldn’t be taken easily. But it still went missing.

“We’ve replaced it a couple of times, I think, I don’t know, maybe just young teenagers having a laugh.”

Debbie Taylor had noticed the new cross, driving past.

The Taylor family live nearby.

“I was just like, oh, so happy about that, that someone had done that.”

Taylor doesn’t usually post on social media but went public to thank the person responsible for their kindness, which has “gobsmacked” her.

“Obviously, I know all his friends remember him but it seems that the whole Browns Bay, Rothesay Bay, Murrays Bay community remember as well.”

Hero image: Matthew Taylor's cross has gone missing several times in the 23 years since he was killed. Photo / Supplied

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