Samuel Macharia's foster parents tell of their grief.
Samuel Macharia's foster parents tell of their grief. Jerad Williams

Family's pain: We love you Sammy

THE family of Kenyan teenager Samuel Macharia said a heartbreaking public goodbye to their "beautiful son" with the "infectious smile" this morning.

Samuel, who would have turned 17 this week, is believed to have drowned off Cabarita Beach after a swim on Sunday.

His body was found by surf lifesavers on the beach at Salt after a four-day land and ocean search.

The talented soccer player came to Australia in 2006, sponsored by the Tweed Shire Council as an off-shoot from a council program in Kenya.

Council employees Bernie and Sandra Zietlow and their sons Ricky, Kurt and Ryan took Samuel into their family and the Tweed community where he touched the hearts of everyone he met.

"Words can't express our grief," Mr Zietlow said.

"Sam's infectious smile, gentle nature and massive capacity to give love were impossible to resist and captivated all who came into contact with him.

"A small boy from Kenya, Samuel Mwangi Macharia Zietlow came into our lives and touched the hearts of everyone he met forever.

"We love you Sammy."

Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, where Samuel had just completed his Year 10 school certificate, is providing ongoing prayer time and support for friends and family of the popular teenager.

Principal Chris Duncan said support would be provided for as long as it was needed.

Mayor Barry Longland has also expressed his sadness on behalf of the Tweed Shire Council.

"On behalf of council and my councillor colleagues I extend my deepest condolences to Sam's family here in Tweed and in Kenya," Cr Longland said.

"We share the grief of the organisation on the loss of Sam and trust his legacy will continue."

Council general manager Mike Rayner said Sam's life story was one of hope, inspiration and courage with his personality touching many people.


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