Boy’s mystery death in bed: Kāpiti community rallies around grieving family

An outpouring of love has been shown to the family of a boy who passed away after never waking up from his sleep on Saturday morning.

Finding themselves in the middle of every parent’s worst nightmare, parents of three Andy and Rachel Tate thought their eldest son Jacob, 11, was just sleeping in.

“He slept in longer in the morning than he would usually and thinking he was just tired from school they let him sleep in,” family friend and spokeswoman for the family Abby Woollaston said.

“When it got close to 9am they were thinking this is a long sleep-in, even for him, and went to check on him.

“Opening the curtains, and finding Jacob still not responding, Andy turned him over and immediately knew there was something wrong.”

Trying to resuscitate him while the paramedics were on their way to their Waikanae home, the family found it was too late.

“They are still trying to work out what happened. It happened so suddenly, there was no warning.”

Now Jacob’s siblings Joshua, 6, and Charlie 5, are asking if they are going to wake up.

“It’s such a heart-wrenching time.”

Creative and sensitive, Jacob was a boy who loved being different.

“He was very caring and sensitive, interpreting the world through a creative lens,” Woollaston said.

“He was very aware and nurturing to other small children around him, much more than you would expect for a boy his age.

“He would go through phases, one was when he wore onesies all the time.

“When Rach would try get him out of his onesies, he would say, ‘If I don’t wear a onesie how will they know I’m different?’

“Being dyslexic he was very artsy and gifted in other areas such as art and drawing.

“At Sunday school it wouldn’t matter what bible story it was they were looking at, he would be drawing pictures of angels or God, drawing them how he sees them.”

Jacob’s mother Rachel said, “Jacob was so quirky.

“He was really different, not afraid to be so, and marched to the beat of his own drum.

“Being dyslexic he was able to see things that others couldn’t see. He would jump 10 steps ahead while we were trying to keep up.

“He was the kind of boy that loved fishing even though he never really caught any fish.”

While the cause of death is unknown and still with the coroner, a Givealittle page has been set up to help the family in the coming weeks as they take time to mourn their loss.

Already reaching over $50,000 at time of writing, family, friends, local schools, the church and many others from their Kāpiti and Porirua communities have come together to support the well-loved family.

Jacob’s grandmother Joy said, “We are hoping to send a message of hope at this time to everyone who is seeing us grieve.

“The ponderings of a grandmother have been most interesting during this time – life is short.

“As people see us grieve we want them to see that our loss is God’s gain and life is short – there is hope in this time.”

“I’ve known the Tates for about 10 years and they’re people that are very well-loved and connected in the community, not just in our community, but throughout New Zealand,” Woollaston said.

“They’ve got so many friends because they’ve been such good friends.

“Understandably they’re heartbroken, this is not something you ever think you’ll have to go through.

“By 5.30pm on Saturday the Tate house was full of family, friends, Jacob’s best friends parents … everyone was helping – folding washing, making food, crying, praying, right from the beginning there’s been a huge outpouring of love.”

To add to their hardship, Jacob’s death comes on top of the family already going through Rachel battling breast cancer since 2019.

“They were already on the back foot with Rachel who is self-employed not being able to work much so this support means a lot.

“They’re being carried at the moment by their faith and the love of everybody else.”

Sharing a message to those who have supported them so far Rachel said, “Thank you so much for all the beautiful messages of love.

“We feel so supported, bless you all.”

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