Thousands raised after Kiwi mum and children perish in NSW river tragedy

A child has been pulled from a vehicle swept into the Tweed River
Thousands raised after Kiwi mum and children perish in NSW river tragedy

05 April, 2017

Police are waiting to speak to a young girl who was the sole survivor of a tragic accident that killed her mother and two siblings, as the community rallies around the devastated family in flood-hit northern NSW.

King's mother, Heather May King, who lives in Manukau said she would be trying to find flights to Australia on Tuesday afternoon.

A mother has died with two of her children as she tried to rescue them after their auto plunged into a swollen river in Australia.

Tweed Byron LAC Chief Inspector Mick Dempsey told News Corp King was found "holding a child" and that he has no doubt "she was a hero".

He and two others went into the water to try and rescue the occupants, with the vehicle having floated down about 40 metres from where it entered the river.

"[She had] just buried her father last week".

"This little girl has run down the road, and she has said her mum and dad or family have gone into the river", he told Nine News.

Police divers at the Tumbulgum scene.

Four police divers from Sydney recovered the bodies on Tuesday afternoon and Supt Starling said numerous officers had children of a similar age to Ms King's. She was screaming that her mum, older sister and little brother had gone into the river in the vehicle.

There are fears three other people - including the child's mother and sibling - are still trapped inside the vehicle. The child was now at Tweed Heads hospital with family members.

There was no barrier to stop traffic veering off the road, he said.

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"She couldn't say much, she just said my mum, my little sister and my brother have gone in the river in a auto".

Former police officer Matt Grinham arrived at the scene just after the vehicle disappeared and along with fellow witnesses, entered the water to mount a rescue effort.

"She was screaming [that] her mum, little sister and older brother had gone into the river in the car" he told the Seven Network yesterday.

"She was really upset".

A crane was positioned on the river bank and a police helicopter landed at the scene as divers prepared to enter the water to recover the vehicle. "She couldn't say much".

Crews are using boats with sonar equipment to find the missing vehicle, police said.

Retired highway patrol officer Matt Grinham discovered the crash when he was driving to clean up flood damage at a family member's house.

Residents of Tumbulgum - a town of around 700 people - had been getting on with the job of flood clean-up when the river tragedy unfolded.

A main road into the area, the Tweed Valley Way, only reopened on Monday.

"This is about heeding the warnings of the road closures, this has been a major event and the emergency services don't take those closures lightly".

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