A young Australian backpacker shot dead with his girlfriend on a Canadian highway had ‘met the love of his life and was at his happiest’, his memorial service has heard.
The father of Lucas Fowler, 23, on Friday delivered a moving eulogy as hundreds of mourners gathered to say goodbye to the young man at a church in Sydney’s north.
New South Wales Police Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler refused to mention the horrible fate that had befallen his son and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, 24.
Instead, a wry Mr Fowler focused on the young couple’s joyful love affair, and spoke admiringly of his son’s achievements in life – most of all, Ms Deese.
‘(A Canadian ranch owner) said that every now and then she’d look up and see Chynna had walked over to Lucas and given him a hug or just a look,’ Mr Fowler said.
‘They were full of happiness and joy just being together.’
A composed and reflective Inspector Fowler praised his son, an apprentice mechanic, for turning his dream of travelling around the world into reality.
He met his girlfriend Chynna in Croatia but kept it from his parents for some time – largely because his mother had warned him not to run off with ‘foreign girls’.
Tragically, the family never met Chynna in person, but mourners gathered at the Turramurra Uniting Church were told that didn’t stop the Fowlers from bringing her into the clan.
‘The day she stole Lucas’s heart she became part of her family,’ Mr Fowler said. ‘We were so happy he had met a life partner’.
‘We are so happy that Lucas and Chynna found each other and had such a great time travelling together, meeting new friends and just milking every last drop of fun out of life.’
Mr Fowler said his son had lived a life many would envy.
‘He didn’t just dream of travelling, he worked and saved and made it happen …
‘He met the love of his life and was at his happiest.’
Their future had been equally bright, Mr Fowler said.
‘We so looked forward to having Chynna in our family.
‘Her mother tells us she wanted her kids to have an Aussie accent.’
Ten of Lucas’s friends stood at the front of the church dressed in flannelette shirts – his trademark style – and spoke about how their party-loving mate was truly a free spirit.
One tearful friend said: ‘Right until the end that man was free. He was living life just how he wanted and showing me that life is there to be grabbed onto, and thrown into fifth gear.’
Lucas was the youngest of four siblings and is survived by his older brothers Jacob and Isaac and sister Savannah.
Inspector Fowler said the children had kept the family together during its wrenching trip to Vancouver to identify their son and brother’s body.
A sizeable contingent of Inspector Fowler’s police colleagues attended the service, including Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones and minister David Elliott.
While it was a world away on Friday, a massive manhunt remains ongoing for suspected killers, Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18.
The latest sighting of the pair is in Manitoba, about 2000km east of where the couple were found dead.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are suspected to have murdered a third man, Leonard Dyck, 64.