Loved ones pay tribute to ‘kind, gentle and sensitive’ Norwich snowboarder
The grieving parents and girlfriend of a “funny, athletic, creative and very talented” freestyle snowboarder who died when his car crashed into a bridge have paid emotional tributes to him.
Nerijus Kalinauskas - known as Neo to his loved ones - died in the early hours of December 21 last year when the black VW Golf he was driving hit a bridge footing near the A12 Gorleston bypass.
The 25-year-old Norwich snowboarder’s death devastated his family and sent shock waves through the Norfolk snow sports community, with friends from his club describing him at the time as an “exceptional talent” and an “inspiration”.
At an inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court yesterday, assistant coroner Johanna Thompson heard how Lithuanian-born Mr Kalinauskas, of St Mildreds Road, had been dealing with personal problems in the run up to his death.
His mother Inesa Kalinauskiene said that she had seen a “change in his behaviour” from September last year, when he often became angry and seemed depressed.
“He used to come and talk to us in the sitting room as we drank tea but he stopped, he was shut in his room,” she said.
His girlfriend Jaime Lawn said that he had visited her a week before his death to give her an early Christmas present and told her he was “going away” over the festive period.
She said that as they had a holiday booked for early January, his comments gave her no cause for concern.
The court heard how Mr Kalinauskas, who had trained as a mechanic and welder before becoming a volunteer snowboard instructor at Norfolk Snowsports Club, left the home he shared with his parents in the early hours of December 21.
His car was seen crashed into the bridge footing by Mark Blacknell, who was on his way to work.
Forensic collision investigator PC Forbes Scott said that examinations had revealed that the car’s lights were off, suggesting Mr Kalinauskas had not braked before the crash.
Mrs Thompson recorded a verdict of suicide, saying that the evidence and documents found on Mr Kalinauskas’ computer after his death gave reason to believe he “took his own life”.
In a joint statement, his father Rolandas Kalinauskas, Miss Lawn and Mrs Kalinauskiene said: “Nerijus was an intelligent, funny, athletic, creative and very talented young man. A kind, gentle and sensitive soul who was extremely hard working and took great pride in everything he did.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Father Laurie for holding such an open funeral service and also thank staff and friends at Norfolk Snowsports Club for holding Neo’s wake, for all the pizza and for his memorial at the club.
“We love him and miss him dearly every day and he is always in our thoughts.”
A commemorative snowboard has been put up at the club, which is based at Whitlingham Lane in Trowse.
If you have been affected by the issues in the article or need support, contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090.
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