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#Woman who survived New Zealand volcano recalls losing dad, sister

#Woman who survived New Zealand volcano recalls losing dad, sister

An Australian woman who lost her father and sister in New Zealand’s White Island volcano eruption shared her grief and lingering anxiety six months after the horrific blast, which left her with burns over 70 percent of her body.

Stephanie Browitt, 23, of Melbourne, whose sister Kristal Eve Browitt, 21, and father, Paul, perished along with 19 other people in the Dec. 9 eruption, called it her “worst nightmare” on Instagram.

“Honestly, every time it’s the 9th of each month I can feel my heart racing and my body tense as the memory of it floods back in my mind,” she wrote.

“I get anxious. I hate it so much, it does not get easier. It just hurts more and more when I think about how much time has passed since I was last with my dad and sister,” Browitt continued.

“I keep wishing I could go back in time and have looked for them in the mess so I could’ve sat with them, been with them. My heart hurts and aches for them everyday,” she added.

Browitt has spent most of the time in the hospital for treatment of burns over 70 percent of her body and lost parts of her fingers, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Her dad died in a hospital a month after the eruption. Her mother Marie remained aboard their cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, during the fateful day and was unharmed.

Browitt described being hit by a wave of ash and rock.

Stephanie Browitt just before the eruption
Stephanie Browitt just before the eruptionInstagram

“I was just knocked over. I was tumbling, rolling, for minutes. I mean it felt like forever until it stopped and then it was just burning hot,” she told Four Corners, according to the Herald.

“I remember trying to stand up and it took so much energy just to stand up I remember thinking, ‘I can’t believe how hard this is’. My legs just felt like jelly,” she said.

She managed to get up but then fell and tumbled down a hill, waiting for nearly an hour before help arrived.

Krystal and Paul Browitt
Krystal and Paul BrowittInstagram

During that time, she heard her dad shout her name and she called back to him before everything went quiet.

“I think a lot of people gave up on screaming,” she said. “But every 15 to 20 minutes, I’d hear my name again. My dad was yelling out my name and I realized he was checking up on me to make sure I was awake.”

Browitt told Four Corners: “I’m upset at the whole situation, but I’m very angry that it took so long for the rescue to come.

”Now I realize rescue actually wasn’t coming. It was just three pilots who chose to risk their own lives to help us and if they hadn’t come, we’d all be gone,” she added. “I know that if help had come sooner, there would probably be more people alive from our group.”

Royal Caribbean told Four Corners the company was focused on providing care and support to its passengers, but declined further comment because details of the tour were subject to an investigation.

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