A father-to-be has dropped dead at home in the middle of an online martial arts class, while his pregnant wife sat upstairs.
Paul Smits practiced martial arts three or four times a week from his home in The Basin, east of Melbourne, when he suddenly died on Tuesday night.
The instructor, who was teaching the 34-year-old via Zoom due to a five-day lockdown across Victoria, saw the sculptor collapse and called emergency services and his wife, Holly McIntosh.
Mr Smits’ younger sister Kirstie Fitzpatrick told Daily Mail Australia that by the time pregnant Ms McIntosh ran downstairs, it was too late.
Paul Smits (poictured with his wife Holly Mcintosh at their wedding in 2016) practiced martial arts three or four times a week from his home
Mr Smits and Ms McIntosh (pictured) met 16 years ago before they got married and moved into a home in Victoria
‘She didn’t know until the martial arts place called her – there was no sound or crash or anything when he fell,’ the 28-year-old said.
Ms Fitzpatrick said her brother had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a genetic condition where the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick and can cause circulation problems.
Most people with the condition live a normal life with no symptoms, but six people in every 10,000 diagnosed will die as a result.
The professional sculptor met the future mother of his child 14 years ago, before finally getting married in 2016.
They were elated to find out they would be parents to a little girl in August and started eagerly making plans for their new family.
But instead of preparing for the arrival of their baby, the 32-year-old graphic designer is now picking out clothes for her late husband to wear for his burial.
Ms Fitzpatrick said her sister-in-law hasn’t spoken about the moment she found her husband unresponsive on the floor, but is devastated – along with the rest of the family.
‘One minute you can talk normally, and the next he’s gone,’ she said. ‘It’s a shock.’
The Smits family, pictured left to right: Paul (front centre) his sister Ashlee, 31, Kirstie, 28, and their parents Ron and Jenny
Pictured: Kirstie Fitzpatrick, Paul Smits, an elderly relative, and their sister Ashlee at Paul’s wedding
Ms Fitzpatrick described her brother as a selfless, quirky and funny family man who loved films and was always sending his family movie quotes.
‘He just had this stupid humour,’ she laughed.
‘He was never in a bad mood – every time we saw him he was happy and he loved his four nieces and nephews.’
To support Ms McIntosh when their daughter is born in four months, a family friend set up a Go Fund Me page.
‘Everyone who knew Paul will agree he was one of the most selfless human beings, such an honourable man. He was always so supportive of Hol and so excited to become a father,’ the page read.
‘We know it would be his wish to make sure his girls are taken care of in every way possible [and] it’s more important now than it ever was that Holly can take the time she needs to soak in every moment with their baby girl when she arrives.’
Ms Fitzpatrick described her brother (pictured with his wife) as a selfless, quirky and funny
Holly (pictured with her parents Russel and Gail on her wedding day in 2016) will have to raise the child alone
All donations will go towards helping the new mum pay bills and her mortgage, and buy all the baby items she needs as a single parent.
The owner of FreeForm Martial Arts posted a heartfelt tribute to Ms Smit on social media on Saturday.
‘To all Freeform family we have lost a dear student who passed away this week, his name is Paul Smits and he was the most respectful and dedicated Martial Artist and student of our Art,’ the post read.
‘I am reaching out to you all to have a look at his body of work of sculptures as they are extraordinarily beautiful. He will be missed by us all and will stay in our hearts.’
Mr Smits (pictured) was an accomplished sculptor and worked with museums and councils
All donations will go towards helping the new mum pay bills and her mortgage, and buy all the baby items she needs as a single parent. Pictured: Mr Smits with one of his sculptures
The owner of FreeForm Martial Arts posted a heartfelt tribute to Ms Smit on social media on Saturday. Pictured: One of Mr Smits’ sculptures