A BRITISH dad who was reported missing in Belgium after attending a wedding has been found dead.
Jason Gapper, 33, is believed to have stumbled off a dark woodland path and fallen into a freezing river while disorientated from drinking alcohol.
The care home chef was just metres behind his fiance on the short walk from the wedding venue to their accommodation in Villerot when he disappeared.
Belgian police believe Jason’s tragic death was accidental, his family say.
Police searched the area and found Jason’s phone close to the entrance of the woods.
His body was found in the river near where he had been staying at about 4pm the following day — Sunday, February 10.
Dad-of-one Jason’s family are trying to raise £7,000 to repatriate his body back to the UK because he did not have travel insurance.
‘GONE TOO SOON’
His aunty Leanne Pitt, 33, said: “We are all just so shocked, the past few days have felt so surreal, like a bad dream.
“We can’t believe that he has been taken from us – it was so sudden that it feels impossible.
“Thirty-three is no age to go – he had his whole life ahead of him.
“He was just really funny and such a caring person.
“He had so much to look forward to, and was really enjoying life — he had a new job, was watching his daughter grow up and was due to be married.
“One moment he was here and the next he was gone.”
He had so much to look forward to, and was really enjoying life — he had a new job, was watching his daughter grow up and was due to be married
Dead man's aunt, Leanne Pitt
Leanne rushed to Villerot, a part of the city of Saint-Ghislainon in west Belgium, on Sunday to join the search effort with Jason’s parents.
But Jason, who has a six-year-old daughter and is from Bristol, had been found by the time they arrived.
He had recently started a job in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, as a chef in a care home after working as a charity fundraiser in Bristol for a number of years.
A Gofundme page has raised just under £2,000 of the £7,000 needed to bring Jason’s body back to the UK.
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Leanne added: “It’s important for us as family to have him home, but most of all it’s for his daughter – she needs to grow up knowing where her daddy is and knowing that she can go and see him.
“We could never have seen this coming and we couldn’t pay such a large amount of money straight away.
“As soon as we were handed the bill and found out that it was going to be £7,000, I knew that I had to do whatever I could to get him home with us.
“We have an amazing response to the fundraiser so far, I can’t believe how generous people have been and it goes to prove how many people’s lives he touched in one way or another.”
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