How Bali bombing survivor Patrick Byrne became the 89th victim of the terrorist attacks that killed his mates 12 years ago

By Taylor Auerbach Daily Mail

Bali bombing aftermath

Carnage: The aftermath of the night that would ‘destroy’ a piece of Pat Byrne forever

‘He was never the same after that night’: How Bali bombing survivor Patrick Byrne became the 89th victim of the terrorist attacks that killed his mates 12 years ago

Heroic Bali bombing survivor Patrick Byrne – who ran back into a the burning Sari nightclub minutes after terrorists had unleashed hell – was found dead on Wednesday.

As news of his death, which police described as not suspicious, spread among his close network of friends at the Coogee Dolphins, he was remembered as a joker, a party animal and a selfless mate who hid a world of pain.

Recognised with a bravery award in 2008, Pat’s actions on the night of the bombings saved countless lives. But it was the horror he faced in a makeshift morgue in the days after the attack that would haunt him to his early grave.

The former Coogee Dolphins football club president, 41, did not sleep for two days after explosives tore through the Sari nightclub, killing 88 Australians including six of his closest mates. His name will now sit alongside theirs at an official memorial to the victims in Coogee.

Pat had popped out of the club to buy a packet of cigarettes, a chance decision that saved his life.

But he was about to engage in a harrowing and heroic rescue mission that would change him forever.

Following the blasts, Pat ran in and out of the nightclub repeatedly – carrying severely injured tourists to safety and putting his own life on the line.

‘Everyone who went into the Sari club that night was a hero, it was a warzone, and Pat did it over and over again,’ close friend and fellow survivor Erik de Haart told MailOnline.

‘There were people staggering in and out, there was dust everywhere and body bits all over the floor but Patty was charged. He was on a mission. We went over as a team and we wanted to come back as a team.’

Less than 48 hours after the act of terrorism that killed 202 people, Pat, Erik and Daniel ‘Shorty’ Mortenson, another Coogee Dolphins teammate, faced the gut-wrenching task of identifying their friends at a makeshift morgue.

‘There was four inches of bloody water on the floor of the triage room,’ Mr de Haart said. ‘A pile of rags, sheets hanging off beds and shards of skin everywhere…we went through that and eventually came to what was the morgue. There was a collection of arms and legs. Patty walked in and he saw that and fell to pieces. It shocked him so hard, he couldn’t handle it…we took him back to the hotel and he’s never been the same since.’

The horror of what he went through 12 years ago would haunt him for the rest of his tortured days. Pat, or ‘Patty’ as he was known to his mates, was found dead on Wednesday at his parents’ Central Coast home. No note has yet been found.

Brothers: In a heartbreaking post on Facebook on Thursday, Dolphins president Brock Thompson said of Pat ‘I will always be proud to call you my brother.’

‘He had the worst case of survivor’s guilt of all of us,’ said Mr de Haart. ‘It destroyed a vital part of him, a little bit of him died that day.’

Despite the anguish, Byrne continued to assist the Coogee Dolphins and his community both financially and with his time.

He was a lover of rugby league and a talented player. He once won an U21 competition with the Eastern Suburbs Roosters.

Friends remember two sides of Patty in the years since that cowardly act of murder by Islamist extremists.

‘He had some very, very dark days. He hit the bottle hard and he overindulged in drugs from time to time. There was Patty the party animal who liked to laugh and then there was a darker side. We really couldn’t pass on our nightmares to those back at home.’

Pat’s marriage broke down a number of years ago and he leaves behind two boys, both aged under nine. When he died he was living with his parents in Bateau Bay.

‘What he did over in Bali was heroic,’ said best friend and former flat mate Dean Johnson.

‘His mates meant everything to him. He was very outgoing, the life of the party and if people weren’t enjoying themselves he would go out of his way to crack a joke at your expense or his.’

Tonight the Coogee Dolphins will be reuniting at a pub in the eastern suburbs to remember a selfless survivor of the Bali bombings who would eventually become a victim.

There are already plans in place at the club to ensure he is never forgotten.

‘He’d be loving the fact that we’re all getting together for a few beers to remember how much he annoyed us,’ said Mr Johnson.

Pat, who became a successful businessman back in Australia, was given a bravery award in 2008 for his actions.

In the 12 years since his mates Clint Thompson, 29, Adam Howard, 27, Dave Mavroudis, 28, Shane Foley, 34, Gerard Yeo, 20 and Joshua Iliffe, 28 were murdered he fought a daily struggle.

As is true of all heroes, the one life he couldn’t save was his own.

A public funeral will be held for Pat next Wednesday at 11am at St Mary’s Church in North Sydney.

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