A brave White Island volcano survivor has shared a harrowing photo revealing how she spent last Christmas as she woke up from a two-week coma.
Stephanie Browitt, 24, was touring the island with her 21-year-old sister Krystal and their father Paul when the volcano erupted off the coast of New Zealand on December 9, 2019.
Her father and sister were among the 22 victims killed in the blast.
Ms Browitt has opened up about her recovery after suffering third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and losing parts of her fingers.
Sharing an emotional photo with friends that was taken on Boxing Day last year – two days after she woke up – the 24-year-old said that despite being covered head-to-toe in bandages, underneath she was smiling.
Stephanie Browitt shared a photo of herself after waking up from a two-week coma after the horrific White Island volcano eruption
The 24-year-old was touring the island with her 21-year-old sister Krystal and their father Paul when the volcano erupted off the coast of New Zealand on December 9, 2019
‘The last two days as I was slowly coming to was ‘horrible’, mum said. I was extremely delirious, suffered from flashbacks, didn’t know where I was and had no comprehension of my situation,’ Ms Browitt wrote.
‘On the 24th of December, that finally stopped. I was awake, in so much pain and unable to move but awake! I started talking to my mum properly and was able to get a basic understanding of my current situation.’
She said upon learning her father was in the ICU next door, she found out her mother and friends had visited her each day in hospital.
‘Unexplainable’ joy is what she said she felt during the first time she saw her mum since the disaster.
‘The thoughts that went through my mind whilst waiting for help on the 9th of December, was that ”I had to survive for mum”,’ she said.
Stephanie (pictured ) suffered third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and lost a number of her fingers
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
”’Mum won’t survive without us, I have to hold on for her.” I made it for mum and all I wanted was for her to stay by my side, which she did always.’
Two days after she woke up from her coma, Ms Browitt was allowed to be briefly taken out of her room and out onto the ICU floor.
Staring out a hospital window surrounded by her two best friends, she said that despite what had happened to her she was simply happy to be alive.
‘I couldn’t move, eat or do anything really but I was so happy to be awake and I promise you under those bandages in this photo I was smiling,’ she said.
Ms Browitt has become a beacon of inspiration for those who have experienced trauma in their lives, and regularly shares update of her road to recovery.
Last week she detailed how she now has to undergo rounds of painstaking fraxel laser treatment on her face and neck to help her scars heal.
Ms Browitt has become a beacon of inspiration for those who have experienced trauma in their lives, and regularly shares update of her road to recovery
She revealed she looks forward to the treatment, because ‘it’s one step closer to not needing it’.
Stephanie explained that the laser treatment stimulates scar regeneration by creating microscopic holes in the tissue.
It will also hopefully improve the functional ability and mobility of the scar tissue, while also improving the appearance.
The ultimate goal is that the treatment will reduce some of the redness on Ms Browitt’s face and flatten raised sections – though she understands it will never entirely get rid of it.
‘This will be quite an ongoing thing for me in the long term as I cannot do all of my burns areas at once,’ she explained.
Ms Browitt’s mother Marie was the only member of the family to stay on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship when the tragedy struck.
After the incident, the 24-year-old spent six months in hospital and now wears special clothing to protect her burns.
Stephanie is seen with her sister Krystal. Tragically Krystal was killed in the blast on December 9 last year
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
Earlier this month, 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.
Ms Browitt’s sister Krystal was killed in the initial blast, while her father died later in hospital.
Royal Caribbean SUES White Island volcano survivors in Australia claiming fine print in their tickets means they can’t win huge damages in US
By Jackson Barron for Daily Mail Australia
Royal Caribbean cruise liners have sought legal action in Australia to stop victims of the horrific White Island volcano explosion from winning damages in the US.
The company have been sued in Miami by Australian family Marie and Stephanie Browitt and American couple Ivy and Paul Reed for green-lighting their trip to the volcano despite eruption warnings.
Royal Caribbean had 38 passengers from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship on a tour of the volcano when it erupted on December 9, 2019.
Both parties are seeking damages from the Norwegian cruise company, accusing them of failing to keep their passengers safe.
But in response, Royal Caribbean is seeking a ruling from the Australian federal court that would ban the cases from developing further in America.
Royal Caribbean have been sued in Miami by Marie and Stephanie Browitt (pictured) and Ivy and Paul Reed
The company claim a clause in the fine print of their tickets for the trip means only courts in New South Wales can hear any cases related to the eruption.
Twenty-one people died and dozens more were injured when the volcano erupted off the coast of Whakatane on New Zealand’s North Island on December 9, 2019.
Forty-seven people were trapped on the island when the volcano blew, sending ash, rocks, debris and 300C steam into the air at a rate of more than 100 metres per second.
Marie Browitt’s husband Paul and daughter Krystal were among the victims who both travelled to the site on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas.
Nineteen of the 21 deaths from the eruption came from the tour group.
Stephanie Browitt suffered extensive injuries, as well as post traumatic stress disorder after the eruption.
The Reed couple both suffered severe burns in the explosion, along with mental trauma.
Ivy and Paul Reed (pictured together) both suffered extensive burns in the eruption and are seeking damages accusing Royal Caribbean of failing to keep their passengers safe
Krystal Browitt (pictured) was a passenger on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas and was among the 22 victims of the eruption
Six days before the eruption on December 3, volcanologists raised the alert level of White Island to level two, which is the most dangerous level a volcano can be classified as without erupting.
This was due to an increase in tremor levels, gas and unrest at the site.
The Browitt’s have accused Royal Caribbean of playing Russian Roulette with passenger’s lives after selling tickets and allowing the day trip to continue.
‘This conduct was indecently cavalier, outside the bounds of decency and so reckless that it should not be tolerated in civilised society,’ they said, as reported by The Guardian.
The Browitt’s case also includes claims under Florida’s wrongful death laws on behalf of Paul and Krystal’s estates.
Stephanie Browitt (pictured) was severely burnt in the blast and wears compression bandages over her face in recovery
Their lawyer Peter Gordon said the family will continue to fight for the victims.
‘We intend to protect and to defend Marie and Stephanie’s, and Paul and Krystal’s, right to pursue this case where the wrongdoing took place,’ he said.
‘And that wrongdoing that took place was at the headquarters of Royal Caribbean, where they turned a blind eye to all the evidence that White Island was ready to erupt.’
The Reeds claimed Royal Caribbean were reckless in running the tour while knowing of the potential danger of an eruption.
Royal Caribbean are yet to file a defence for either case.
A spokesperson for the cruise liner said the company does not comment on pending inquiries.
Both legal cases claim Royal Caribbean knew of the eruption threat but still went ahead with their tour. Pictured: Marie Browitt and her daughter Krystal, who died in the eruption