Michael Eric Wahrlich, aka “Mike the Juggler” passed away (Source: Facebook)
An extremely sad loss for the Wellington Community: We are devastated to inform you of the tragic news that one of Wellington’s beloved street performers, Michael Eric Wahrlich, also known as “Mike The Juggler,” perished in the Loafers Lodge fire.
One of the victims of the Loafers Lodge fire, which also claimed the lives of at least four other people, has been identified as Wellington street performer “Mike the Juggler” by his sister. Keep reading to know more details regarding ‘Mike The Juggler’s death and the tragedy.
Michael Eric Wahrlich among Loafers Lodge fire victims
One of the victims of the Loafers Lodge fire, which also claimed the lives of at least four other people, has been identified as Wellington street performer “Mike the Juggler” by his sister.
Mike was reportedly believed to have perished in the Loafers Lodge fire last Tuesday morning, according to Sister Margaret’s account from the police. In order to aid in the official identification process, police collected DNA from her.
“I am very excited about the pleasure and happiness that Mike bought to the Wellington people with his juggling and his massive smile,” she said on Monday.
Early on Tuesday morning, Loafers Lodge in Wellington, which is close to the Mount Cook-Newtown border, caught fire. This fire is being investigated as an arson.
Ten more people are still missing, and at least five deaths have been officially confirmed. Sprinklers were not necessary for the structure, and it has been established that the front door was closed, leaving only one ground-floor exit for the 112-person complex.
She called the police, who visited her last week, and informed her that he was believed to have passed away on Sunday because she knew he might have been in Loafers Lodge on the night of the fire.
She was planning a funeral for Wellington this week and said that anyone wishing to attend could do so. Anthony Harris, a local of Loafers Lodge, claimed there had been different tales about Mike surviving the fire and dying.
“None of us have seen him … he wasn’t at the stadium [where residents were evacuated too], I’m not sure if he was at hospital. We haven’t seen the juggler,” he said.
New Zealand Police about Loafers Lodge fire
Today’s investigation of the scene of the fatal fire at Loafers Lodge in Newtown went on as planned, and progress was made. Inspector Dion Bennett, acting Wellington District Commander, stated that no “further significant discoveries” were found at the building today.
“The process of formal identification is moving forward, and we are collaborating closely with families to offer support. When we can, we will properly reveal the identities of individuals who have passed away.
“Police are anticipated to stay on-site for the majority of the week. “We anticipate being able to examine the site’s traffic management soon, to immediately reopen Adelaide Road to all traffic.
We appreciate the patience of drivers and members of the community while lane and road closures were in effect. The first Newtown fire fatality has been identified by Stuff. A DNA test identified him as “Mike the Juggler,” a Wellington street performer, and his sister later corroborated this.
Who was Michael Eric Wahrlich?
Michael’s sister Margaret stated,
On June 27, 1955, Michael Eric Wahrlich, was born in Wellington Hospital. He went by Mike Jones informally. But to the residents of Wellington, he was just known as Mike the Juggler—a cheerful figure who had recently been based at Lambton Quay’s southern end and who flashed a wide grin while juggling tennis balls while dressed in either a wool sweater or a blue tracksuit.
The family was raised in Porirua, which is north of Wellington, according to Margaret. Mike had three younger sisters and an older brother. As a child, he was juggling at home.
She remembered him moving up to juggling four tennis balls from only two. In his early years, he was also well-known for strolling the eastern Porirua streets carrying a stereo.
She claimed that after relocating to Wellington, Mike spent years mowing lawns for the Wellington City Council. However, Margaret had moved to Christchurch and hadn’t seen him in seven years.
Nevertheless, they kept in touch. “Michael did have a family, but everyone went their separate ways,” she said. In 2015, Margaret ran across Mike while visiting Lambton Quay with her son and grandson. She found him performing his normal juggling act in front of the Westpac bank.
‘Mike the Juggler’
Michael has been a regular visitor to Wellington’s streets for 25 years. When he was born, he suffered a severe brain injury from which he has never fully recovered.
He uses his exceptional talent for juggling to try to supplement his paltry pension. He can be spotted walking the streets in any type of weather.
His hands have often turned blue from the cold during the winter, and the wind whistles through his thin jumper, but he is still juggling.
Michael has dealt with a lot, but I’ve never seen him lose his smile. He always smiles and says hello to everybody passing by, and he always believes they will give him a penny.
Michael is happy to engage in conversation with others, and his approachability, openness, and simplicity are endearing and uplifting.
“We send our deepest condolences to every family and friend of those who passed away in this horrible incident. May they find love and serenity Whenever and wherever they have moved on”.
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