Moving tribute for a mate

Warrandyte Diary, November 2014

Vincent Petrilli and Jack Wright, who were friends with one-punch victim David Cassai.
Vincent Petrilli and Jack Wright, who were friends with one-punch victim David Cassai.

“One punch cannot just destroy someone else’s life, but can also destroy your life,” Caterina Politi says in a video tribute to her son, David Cassai, a one-punch death victim.

In the moving video The David Cassai Story, David’s loved ones share their personal stories about coping with the 22-year-old’s sudden and tragic death on New Year’s Eve, 2012.

In the video, which has received more than 13,000 hits on Youtube, they speak of David as a loyal, caring young man who lit up the room and made everyone around him feel special.

It’s the latest from the STOP. One Punch Can Kill campaign, which is trying to raise awareness about how deadly one punch can be.

Those behind the making of the video hope its message that violence is never the answer will reach young Australians everywhere.

Jack Wright and Vincent Petrilli, who put the video together with the help of Mitch Finlayson for filming, were close friends with David.

“We wanted to do something different, something hard hitting that would really move people,” Vincent said.

“It’s something that’s always going to be there on social media, so people can always go back to it and spread the message.”

Jack Wright, who went to Warrandyte High School with David, works for Channel 7 and plays footy for the Warrandyte Football Club, said the video had been in production for several months as they worked around other commitments.

“We didn’t have an idea of how good or how big it would turn out,” Jack said.

“Everyone who appeared in the video gave so much emotion when they were speaking – it just all came together and David’s friends, girlfriend and family were all blown away by it.”

Some parts of the video aired on Channel 7 following the sentencing of the young man who fatally punched David in Rye in the early hours of December 31, 2012.

The Supreme Court heard Dylan Closter, 18 at the time, chased down David in an unprovoked attack as David tried to back away, holding up his hands as a non-violent gesture.

However, Dylan Closter continued to throw punches at David.

Just one punch caused David to hit his head on the concrete ground and fracture his skull.

The injuries he sustained were so severe that hours later, doctors at the Alfred Hospital said there was nothing they could medically do for him.

David’s family made the heart-breaking decision to turn off his life support.

Dylan Closter has been jailed for nine years and three months, with a non-parole period of six years.

Because of STOP. One Punch Can Kill’s campaign to strengthen penalties for ‘coward punch’ killers, Victoria now has the toughest laws for one-punch deaths in Australia.

Anybody who is found guilty of a fatal one-punch attack will face a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

However, those close to David say no amount of time will ever make up for their loss.

While there have been more one-punch deaths and injuries since David’s death, the organisation’s volunteers won’t give up on trying to prevent it from happening again.

They have started visiting schools and are educating teens about street violence by sharing David’s story and showing them the video.

“Hopefully showing students that video once and the discussion afterwards is enough to make them think twice,” Jack said.

“We just want people to keep sharing it and contact us if they want us to do talks. We want to get this as far and wide as possible and we want as many people to see it because it’s a good tribute to Dave.”

Vincent says if the video can convince people to not resort to violence and even save just one life, it would be more than enough for him.

“At the end of the day David wouldn’t want us to sit around and mope about it, he’d want us to be proactive,” Vincent said.

“We want to send the message that it’s okay to pull your mate aside and tell him to pull his head in. A true mate is someone who will do that for you, not someone who is going to egg you on to make a bad decision that will affect your life forever and others’ lives as well.”

“We just want to plant that seed in people’s heads, that way Dave doesn’t die in vain.”

Categories: news, youth issuesTags: , , , , , , ,

Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.