OWEN Dalby, the 20-year-old former Coffs Harbour local, who tragically died in a motorcycle crash in Thailand is said to have shielded his close friend Glen Baker from the impact.
Glen, a popular local bodyboarder, was left fighting for his life in a critical condition in a Thai hospital after the accident in the town of Thong Sala on the island of Koh Phangan on Sunday.
Owen was riding the motorcycle and Glen was in a sidecar when they crashed into a small utility.
Family said Owen "took the full force of the impact" by jumping in front of Glen to save him.
Owen moved to Thailand this year to be with his parents Chris and Jang who used to run the popular Tahruah Thai Restauant on Coffs Harbour's Jetty Strip. He was also the brother of Benita, Bang and Kareena.
"Owen will be sadly missed, always remembered and loved eternally," relative Linda Dalby said.
"Owen was everything he was ever meant to be. An amazing soul with a heart full of love.
"May his kind and caring soul find peace."
Glen's mother Susan Smidt said her son's condition had improved yet he is deeply traumatised having suffered a serious head injury, a broken collarbone and ribs and facial injuries.
"We are also very sad to say he lost his friend who saved Glen and protected him in the accident and lost his life and we will never forget that ever," Ms Smidt said.
"It will be a long and hard road mentally and physcially for some time but Glen will get there as he is so strong willed.
"The hard part for Glen will be having reccuring nightmares of the crash in which he lost his friend Owen.
"Glen will be fine and it will just take time and support from his family and friends.
"But our hearts and thoughts are with the Dalby family in this time of need also," he said.
Friends last night staged a fundraiser at the Coffs Hotel to benefit Glen.
A paddle out is also being planned on Facebook at Gallows Beach to coincide with Owen's memorial service in Thailand.