A woman whose life was saved 16-years-ago by the man who died falling into Mount Ruapehu's crater lake, was one of over 700 people to attend his funeral yesterday.
Richard Ebbett, 39, of Taupo was found deceased last Saturday morning, in what police described as an "absolute tragedy".
Mr Ebbett left home two days earlier to go skiing at Whakapapa ski field on Mount Ruapehu, but he failed to return.
Initial indications suggested he accidentally fell into the lake.
The Manawatu Standard reported in 2001, Mr Ebbett, a keen motocross rider, was travelling from an event in Kawhia when he saw a tractor-trailer crash down a bank.
"I jumped out while the van was still going. I just ran down to get the kids out," he told the Manawatu Standard at the time.
The driver died at the scene, while two children were trapped and a toddler was thrown into a drain.
Mr Ebbett managed to free the children and pull the toddler, who was face down, out of the drain, the Manawatu Standard reported.
Police said the child would not have survived without Mr Ebbett's help.
The toddler, now aged 19. attended the funeral along with her siblings according to Stuff.
Jessie King never got to thank him for saving her life but wanted to attend his funeral to say goodbye and pay her respects.
"I would have given him a big hug and said thank you. Thank you for being there at the right time," she told Stuff.
Senior Sergeant Grant Alabaster described Mr Ebbett's death as "an absolute tragedy for this man's family".
The matter has been referred to the Coroner.