A White Island survivor has marked the one year anniversary of her father’s death with a tear-jerking tribute after he succumbed to his injuries in ICU four weeks after the New Zealand volcano disaster.
Stephanie Browitt, 24, was touring the island with her 21-year-old sister Krystal and their father Paul when the volcano erupted on December 9, 2019.
She survived with third-degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and lost parts of her fingers but her father and sister were among the 22 people killed in the blast.
Paul survived four weeks after the explosion but lost his battle in hospital. Stephanie said her father’s death nearly ‘broke’ her.
Stephanie Browitt (right), 24, was touring the island with her 21-year-old sister Krystal and their father Paul (left) when it erupted off the coast of New Zealand on December 9, 2019
Stephanie marked the one year anniversary of her father’s death in a post to Instagram on Monday. Paul is pictured playing golf
Marie Browitt (left with her family) was the only member of the family to stay on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship when the tragedy struck
‘Today marks 12 months since we had to let you go dad,’ Stephanie wrote to Instagram on Monday.
‘It was another blow on top of blow on top of blow.
‘Mum and I had already and were still going through so much, already grieving for beautiful Krystal.
‘I hated that I knew you were so close to me, yet still so far from me. You were right next door to me in ICU, yet I couldn’t walk to your room and visit you.’
Stephanie said she ‘wanted to give up on everything’ when she was told her father did not make it.
The 24-year-old said she was ‘stupid and naive’ to think he was in the clear just because he made it to hospital.
Paul survived four weeks after the explosion but lost his battle in hospital. The Instagram post included a snap of Paul posing out the front of a dessert cafe (left) and an action shot from a water ride at Dreamworld (right)
Stephanie (pictured) suffered third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and lost a number of her fingers
‘I believed that because you were in hospital and you had made it this far you were definitely going to wake up and improve like I did,’ she wrote.
‘The possibility of you passing away didn’t even cross my mind, maybe it was because I couldn’t let my mind go there.’
Stephanie said it was harder to mourn her father because she wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared for his death.
She was ‘devastated’ seeing her father plugged in to machines when she said goodbye to him.
‘You were strong and such a fighter, that seeing you not like the above killed me,’ Stephanie wrote.
Stephanie said she ‘wanted to give up on everything’ when she was told her father (centre) did not make it through
Stephanie shared a photo of her father and Krystal’s grave. ‘I’m so grateful that you aren’t suffering anymore, you are at peace and that Krystal has you,’ she wrote
‘Dad, you fought for four weeks, you fought to be here with your family, but it was too much and that’s OK because you gave it your all.
‘I’m so grateful that you aren’t suffering anymore, you are at peace and that Krystal has you.’
Stephanie concluded by saying she hopes her sister and father are ‘holding each other tight’ – just as she does with her mum and dog.
‘I love you so much, dad, and I will try my best to make you proud,’ she wrote.
The Instagram post included a photo of her dad playing golf and a snap of him posing out the front of a dessert cafe.
There was also a picture of Stephanie and her father on her graduation day, an action shot from a water ride at Dreamworld, and a photo of Paul and Krystal’s graves.
Stephanie is seen with her sister Krystal. Tragically Krystal was killed in the blast on December 9, 2019
Stephanie’s mother Marie was the only member of the family to stay on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship when the tragedy struck.
In November, Stephanie she posted a tribute to her late sister on Instagram on what would have been her 22nd birthday.
‘My beautiful baby sister Krystal, today you should be celebrating your 22nd birthday with us and your friends. Instead, you aren’t,’ she wrote.
‘You should still be here, you deserved so, so much better in life but instead we were let down by multiple people.
‘I hope dad’s holding you tight and hugging you for both mum and myself.’
There were 47 people on White Island, also named Whakaari, when the volcano erupted. Only 25 people made it out alive.
The fatal explosion off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand, claimed the lives of 22 of the 47 people on the island on December 9, 2019