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A statement has been issued on behalf of the grieving family left behind after Monday's Tweed River tragedy at Tumbulgum.
It was written by Pastor Rob Stuttle.
Here it is in full:
"I’d just like to say that my wife and I personally know the family.
We had the priviledge of teaching scripture at Tumbulgum school for 6yrs with other members of our congregation.
They are the most beautiful children you would ever meet.
They are a Christian family who love God, and love singing about Jesus and learning about the Bible.
Stephanie is well known in the community of Tumbulgum.
She worked for a while at the Local tavern. She loved the community of Tumbulgum and the community love her and the children.
On behalf of the children’s father, Matt Kabealo, Stephanie’s mother, Brother and Sister, her sister-in-law and a close friend of Matt, also Chloe-May, they would like me to convey that; the family are heart broken and devastated at the great loss of Stephanie, Ella-Jane and Jacob.
It is a tragedy and they are suffering with enormous grief and ask that you respect their privacy at this time. Chloe-May, Matt and the family are doing as well as you would expect in these circumstances.
They particularly want to thank everybody who helped at the scene of the accident, as some put their lives at risk that day to try and save the family.
They’d like to thank the SES, Police and divers and retired Highway officer Matt Grinham who was first on the scene and dived into the cold muddy waters of the Tweed River risking his own life, and those who used their boat and sonar equipment to find the vehicle.
The family would like to thank Sebrina who took Chloe in when she ran down the street distraught looking for someone to raise the alarm.
They’d like to thank the staff at Tweed Hospital and the paramedics who assisted their daughter on the day.
Matt would particularly like to thank Phil Kelly and the staff at Kingscliff Bowls Club where he works, for all their support and the Go fund they have organised to raise funds for the family.
And to you the public for all your love and support and best wishes for the family at this time.
The family also wanted me to say again that the road was not closed when Stephanie drove along Dulguigan road that fatal afternoon.
Stephanie is a hero and the police have confirmed this.
And Chloe-May is a brave young lady.
As I have said, both Chloe-May and Matt are doing as well as can be expected but ask that you respect their privacy at this time."