A Melbourne woman has recalled the day she lost her dad and sister on the two-year anniversary of the White Island tragedy.
Stephanie Browitt, 25, lost her sister Krystal and dad Paul on New Zealand’s White Island after a volcanic eruption which claimed the lives of a total of 22 people in December 2019.
Ms Browitt suffered burns to 70 per cent of her body. She now wears a protective face mask.
On Thursday, Ms Browitt posted photos of her family to mark the day which “ripped us apart”. Last week would have been Krystal’s 23rd birthday.
“For a lot of burn survivors they call it their ‘burnversary’, a day where they can celebrate their achievements, accomplishments and the fact that they survived such awful tragedy’s on this very date,” she wrote.
Mr Browitt noted her accomplishments since the tragedy, adding it’s what most burn survivors too. In February, she wrote she suffers from PTSD which was triggered on Australia Day.
“Unfortunately today’s not only the day I survived the unimaginable, it’s the day I lost my dad, Paul and sister, Krystal,” she wrote.
“It’s the day that they were taken from us. My accomplishments mean nothing to me knowing they aren’t shared with my sister and dad by my side. Everyday I question why we couldn’t have gone through this extremely hard journey together, why they couldn’t be here also.”
When Ms Browitt thinks of the day which changed her family’s lives forever, “it’s filled with very mixed emotions”.
“I’m extremely grateful that I was able to make it back home to my mum, but I’m also heartbroken that only I made it back,” she wrote.
“We are a family of four, not two. My heart hurts when I remember what I felt that day, but it hurts more not knowing what my dad and sister felt, that I wasn’t next to them during their last moments.”
She wrote her grief is “never ending”.
“I miss and yearn for my family everyday. I love you so much dad and Krystal, so much it kills me,” she wrote.
“May the others who lost their lives that day find peace and always be remembered. May those that survived continue to achieve their goals in life.”
There were 47 people on the island when the volcano erupted, meaning roughly half of them were killed.
WorkSafe announced last year it was laying charges against 13 different organisations over alleged workplace health and safety safety breaches on the island.
WorkSafe itself has also come under fire after a government review released in October found it “fell short of good practice in its regulation of activities on Whakaari White Island over the 2014-19 period”.
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