Bodies of Kiwi family lost in NSW floods found

Toni Houston
April 5, 2017

Residents of the northern New South Wales community of Tumbulgum say a woman and two children who died when their auto plunged into the Tweed River were not driving on a closed road.

A woman who said she was Ms King's best friend was too distraught to speak about the mother-of-three.

Her other daughter, eight-year-old Chloe May survived, having been freed by her mother and managing to make it to safety.

A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed earlier reports that the mother appeared to be holding her child when she was found in the submerged vehicle.

She has since been taken to Tweed Heads Hospital where she is now with family.

"They were a perfectly normal family, I would see her loading her kids into the auto", neighbour Steven Moller said.

Stephanie King, 43, lived in the town of Bilambil, but grew up in Auckland. Jacob, along with another sister Ella Jane, died when the auto the family were travelling in was washed away.

He added how, in the moments immediately after the accident, Chloe May had clambered courageously to shore, before sounding the alarm.

"Steph was the sort of mother who would do anything for the kids, she was such a community-minded person, she would get in there and help anyone who needed a hand", she said.

Ms King's Facebook says she worked as an assistant in nursing at Opal Aged Care in Tweed Heads, previously working at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club.

A body lifted has been lifted into a rubber police boat at Tumbulgum near the site on Dulguigan Road where a vehicle driven by Stephanie King, 43, left the slippery, flood affected road and plunged into the Tweed River yesterday afternoon.

"We've lost friends. we can't talk about it, we can't talk about that yet", Ms Schaefer said.

Witness Peter Taylor said: 'A little girl's run down the road and she's said her family's gone into the river.

Grinham told reporters he initially thought a calf had fallen in the water, but realised the situation was dire and leapt to action. The road is just so slippery over there.

Three people are feared dead after a vehicle was swept into the Tweed River in flood-ravaged northern NSW.

Matthew Grinham, a former policeman, was driving by the river, which was in flood, when another witness told him what had happened.

Mr Grinham said he felt "helplessness" as he watched air bubbles surfacing in the river but "just couldn't find the car".

"We were going down feet first trying to work out where the auto was, " he told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

"My thoughts are with the courageous me who tried so hard to reach them". "We just couldn't get down far enough".

Emergency services were called to Dulguigan Road about 1.40pm after a nine-year-old girl, who was also travelling in the vehicle, was able to escape and raise the alarm with residents at a nearby property.

A massive clean-up operation is under way as communities pick up the pieces of ruined homes and businesses.

In Queensland, Rockhampton is still bracing for the worst of the cyclone's after-effects.

The story Police recover three bodies from Tweed River at Tumbulgum first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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