Family and friends have paid tribute to a “devoted and larrikin” dad who died suddenly on Father’s Day morning.
Paul Doe, 34, collapsed at his Hunter Valley home on September 2 after having a sneezing fit.
He never regained consciousness.
Seemingly fit and healthy, Paul had been at work the day before, telling colleagues how much he was looking forward to Father’s Day when his 18-month-old son Travis would run up and give him a big hug.
Paul’s devastated wife Belinda told nine.com.au she and Travis had been outside when they heard him start sneezing.
“My son and I were up earlier than him and doing some gardening. We heard that Paul had gotten up. I heard him walking around in the kitchen and he started sneezing,” Belinda said.
“This was normal for him. It was a running joke if he sneezed he didn’t just sneeze once, he sneezed 20 times in a row. That was just him.”
However, when Travis rushed up to the door to greet his dad, he didn’t open the door, which was locked from the inside.
Peering in through a screen door, Belinda saw her husband lying on the kitchen floor.
“It sounded to me like he was fake snoring. He was a larrikin, he thought it was absolutely hilarious to pretend that he was fast asleep so that’s what I thought he was doing.”
It was only when she went inside the house that she realised something was terribly wrong and called Triple Zero.
Belinda performed CPR on Paul until an ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later. But although paramedics attempted to revive Paul for an hour he could not be saved.
Initial post mortem results revealed Paul had emphysema and a faulty aortic valve in his heart, however it could be some time before a final cause of death is known.
Belinda said her husband was a great dad, who loved sharing a joke with his friends and family.
“Everybody that we have spoken to since his passing has come up with some sort of crazy hilarious story about Paul. He made friends really easily and had a great time with his mates,” she said.
“He was a great dad. He was really patient and understanding and just willing to take the time to help Travis learn and discover things.
“Any time Paul needed to put flat pack furniture together, Travis was right in there with his own little screwdriver.
“Like any dad, the thing that he loved most of all was when he got home from work and Travis would come running to the door to greet him, all that kind of stuff.”
Kylie Tanks, who runs a concreting company with her husband where Paul worked, said Belinda and Travis were “the apple of his eye” and he was a popular employee.
“No matter how stressful or busy things were at work, Paul was always smiling. I don’t think I ever saw him without a huge smile on his face,” she said.
After years of scrimping and saving, the young couple had just recently bought their first home, she said.
Unfortunately, Paul had not taken out life insurance and also had no coverage with his superannuation account, Kylie Tanks said.
Work colleagues have set up a fundraising page to help the young family with funeral costs and mortgage repayments.
Belinda said was touched by all the support she had received, but wanted to warn others about the need to be prepared for the worst.
“Paul and I we really struggled financially our whole relationship and getting life insurance was always in the back of our minds but it was something that we thought when we are a little bit better off, when we can afford it, we will do it,” she said.
“It was just something that as a young couple you know that you need to do but you think you have all the time in the world.”