Mra King’s van is removed from the Tweed River.
Mra King’s van is removed from the Tweed River. Glenn Hampson

Drowning tragedy: Friend demands truth about road closure

A CLOSE friend of Tweed River drowning victim Stephanie King has urged the public to "keep demanding the truth" about the triple fatality as it emerged the mother of three had battled through a brain injury in recent years.

The northern NSW community continued to rally behind the only survivor of Monday's crash, her eight-year-old daughter Chloe-May, and her father Matthew Kabealo, raising more than $83,000 by 7.30pm on Wednesday to help them.

Ms King, 43, died alongside two of her three children, Ella-Jane, 11, and Jacob, 7, when their van plunged off a muddy Tumbulgum road and flipped into the river.

Chloe-May was able to escape and run for help.
 

Stephanie King and her family.
Stephanie King and her family.

Sally Fraser said the hero mum, who was found in the front seat of her van clutching of one two dead children on Tuesday, would never have risked her children's lives on a closed road.

"Even buses were using that road. I knew immediately when I heard, it couldn't have been closed, because I know for a fact you (Ms King) would never ever put your kids in harm's way," she posted on Facebook.
 


Ms Fraser also echoed community anger over senior police claims that Dulguigan Rd had been closed after last week's devastating floods.

Police have since backed away from the claims but say they are seeking further information from Tweed Shire Council as part of a coronial investigation.

Jacob and Chloe. Jacob along with sibling Ella-Jane and their mother Stephanie died when the car they were travelling in was washed away in the Tweed River on Monday. Chloe survived the accident.
Jacob and Chloe. Jacob along with sibling Ella-Jane and their mother Stephanie died when the car they were travelling in was washed away in the Tweed River on Monday. Chloe survived the accident.

Henriette Rowland said that Ms King had been recovering from a minor brain injury she suffered a couple of years ago and had only recently been able to return to working as a nurse.

She said their children had gone to Tumbulgum Primary School together and Ms King would sometimes talk about the injury.

"She had an accident a while back and got a minor brain injury, she spoke about it a few times at the school gate," she said.

"Her daughter was Sophie's best friend - she was one of her good friends," she said.

"(What has happened) it just hits your chest, it is devastating ... In a small school, it's one big family. (Stephanie) wouldn't want us to mourn to long, but we are a village in mourning, very much so."

Matt Grinham and son Thomas Grinham, 15, use a depth sounder to locate the car in the river.
Matt Grinham and son Thomas Grinham, 15, use a depth sounder to locate the car in the river.

She said she believed Ms King had driven on Dulguigan Rd many times before.

Phil Kelly, general manager of Kingscliff Bowling Club, where Mr Kabealo works as a chef, said the devastated father had told him he was incredibly grateful for all the support they had received.

"I've just got off the phone with him two minutes ago.

"He's a lot better together today. He's still very shaken and upset. He has some good support around him at home and they are so grateful for all the support and help," he said on Wednesday.

Ms King's mother arrived from New Zealand on Wednesday to be with the family at their Bilambil Heights home, as locals laid floral tributes at the crash site.

News Corp Australia


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