Charles Pantano was found in Lake Tuggeranong his children Victor and Irma Pantano still don't have answers to his death. Photo: Melissa Adams MLA
Excerpt of the eulogy for Charles Pantano, written by his son Victor:
I stand here before you today - with a broken heart.
I have no answers for you. I don't know what happened.
All I can tell you is that my dad died tragically and alone.
Why am I saying this? I say this because it's important that you understand that what I am about to tell you here today... in this God's house... is the truth.
Over the past week, time has stood still. I have stared out into the distance and asked myself what happened? How could this have been my dad's fate? What could I have done differently? I could have saved him – he made me into a champion swimmer, a lifesaver, yet in the end I could do nothing for him.
Whichever way I look at things though... from whatever supposition I start – in the end I always arrive at the same point:
Did dad know that we loved him?
Was he happy?
It’s the unknowns that are still breaking the hearts of Victor and Irma Pantano’s family.
Just over two months ago, Victor and Irma’s father, Charles Pantano – a kind-hearted, caring, fiercely committed family man and Raiders supporter – was found unconscious in knee-deep water at Lake Tuggeranong.
The drowning was shrouded in mystery, with Criminal Investigations detectives unable to determine how Mr Pantano, 68, came to be in the water, or even why he was in Tuggeranong at the time.
There were no signs of foul play, no visible injuries, no witnesses and, ultimately, no clues that shed any light on Mr Pantano’s final moments.
His son Victor, who is chief executive of Canberra-based Digitalcore Pty Ltd, an international oil and gas services company, said the unexpected death had shattered the family.
"The worst thing is when someone dies unexpectedly," Victor said.
"If someone’s sick, you know they are going to go and so you can say what you have to say and prepare," he said.
"But getting rung up at work and finding out your dad has died ... it’s very unexpected."
Mr Pantano, who migrated from Italy in the late 1950s, had recently had shoulder surgery and his arm was in a sling.
"I’ve resigned myself to the few facts – I don’t even know if you’d call them facts – that I know," Victor Pantano said.
"These facts, however, don’t shed any light on how dad ended up in the lake. Something obviously happened to him. I’m pretty convinced that it was an accident, but if we could know for sure what happened that would help us move on."
Charles Pantano spent his early career as a gyprock plasterer, helping to build houses across the Canberra region. He later joined the public service for more than 15 years, during which time he also owned a popular cafe in Mawson.
"I’d like dad to be remembered as someone who cared a lot for his family, cared a great deal for instilling values of community, contribution, doing the right thing, and living your life with integrity," Victor said.
"He wasn’t famous, he wasn’t a person of note, but what he did do was leave a legacy for me and my sister in how we should live our lives and contribute to society, which we will in turn pass on to our kids," he said.
Police are preparing a brief for the ACT coroner.