‘My baby boy’: Father’s final moment with drowning victim
The news had reported a man was missing.
But as a heartbroken Chris Reynolds held the body of his son in his arms for a last time, he realised he was no man.
"He was my baby boy," he said.
"No matter how big our children are they are and will always be small in our arms.
"I will never hold my boy again. I can't tell him how much I love him."
Tears streamed down his face as Mr Reynolds, 51, described the final moments he spent with his late son Luddy.
The young surfer and boxing fan was taken from him in a tragic accident on New Year's Eve, when he slipped and fell while crossing the Mary River, near Gympie.
Despite frantic search efforts from nearby campers and emergency services he failed to resurface.
Police divers discovered his body 12 hours after his disappearance about 100m from the scene.
Luddy was only 20.
Mr Reynolds said he still had vivid memories of two Coolum police officers knocking on his door the next morning to say his son was missing.
He and his family immediately rushed to the scene.
He was on his way home to get floaties to join the search when a police officer phoned to urge him to come back to the scene.
"I got to spend some time with (Luddy), which was beautiful for the police to allow me to do that," he said.
"As I lay there with him my heart broken, all those years and all of the love we had shared had been pulled from us."
Mr Reynolds, who has lived on the Coast all his life, has decided to speak publicly about his beautiful son for the first time despite the incredible amount of pain and grief.
Luddy came to Mr Reynolds from Papua New Guinea when he was six.
His biological father had passed away and left Luddy and his younger brother Justin in his care.
"The boys have called me dad from the awkward first months of everyone asking who these people are," he said with a laugh.
"I said to him one day at the front of school, 'look what do you guys want to do? It's up to you, Luddy, you're the eldest now'.
"I said 'do you want me to be uncle Chris, do you want me to call me Chris? and Luddy said that he wanted to call me dad'.
"Both of their eyes lit up and it was the proudest day of my life.
"They're my boys, have been always and they still are," Mr Reynolds said through tears.
Mr Reynolds, a photographer by trade, last spoke with his son about 7.30pm on New Year's Eve.
Luddy had asked if he could move back to the family's Coolum home.
"He wanted to change his direction in 2021 and get back to his passions," Mr Reynolds said.
"He got off the phone with hope for a new exciting year.
"It was exactly what I've been wanting to hear for quite some time."
But it wasn't to be.
The proud father wants the community now to remember Luddy as a young man with an "infectious smile" who was full of life.
"Everyone remembers him for his smile," he said.
"He was such a handsome young fellow who was so full of life and he was just nothing but love.
"I've had kids from school come up and tell me how he used to stop them from getting picked on and giving his lunch to other kids that didn't have any.
"He was a true gentleman.
"I just feel so lost right now."
Luddy will be farewelled at Noosaville's Gregson and Weight chapel at 2pm on January 14.
Only 200 people will be allowed to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Luddy's mother Anna remains in Papua New Guinea and won't be able to farewell her son in person.
A livestream link to the service will be available on the Gregson and Weight website.