Young girl who lost her mother and siblings when their car crashed into a river earlier this month has spoken of how she escaped the sinking vehicle.

It’s been three weeks since Chloe-May, 8, lost her mum, Stephanie King, when their white van spun off muddied Dulguigan Road in Tumbulgum, and into the swollen Tweed River.

The 43-year-old tried to save her three children before herself, but as the van went down only, Chloe-May Kabealo, escaped.

Chloe-May, told 9NEWS she remembered unbuckling her seat belt before floating to the surface.

“I unbuckled my seatbelt, and I tried to go up for air and then I kept floating up out of something, and then I got out.”

She clambered up the bank and found an old farm house about 200m away, where locals assisted her.

“They just took me in, and lent me some clean clothes and cleaned up the cuts on my feet.”

Chloe and her father, Matt Kabealo, said they are still coming to terms the devastating reality of losing most of their family on April 3.

“I’m shattered, I’m not holding up,” Mr Kabealo said.

“I’m just being strong for my daughter, and just getting through it the best we can.”

Chloe said she would “never forget” her mother and siblings.

The Kabealos’ friends, family and community continue to provide support and raise funds for Chloe’s future.

Devastating for them. I truly can’t imagine what they are going through.

Share your comments below.

Image via 9 news

  • i feel sorry for her and i hope that she doesn’t feel guilty about being a survivor. her mum was a good soul and this was such a sad thing to happen to their family. this event would have a big impact on them


  • Nightmares are sure to be factor for the girl who survived. She and her father need extensive counselling over the next year or so to help them cope with what has happened and adjust to a different lifestyle. As much as they may try routine will change for them. I heard about a Dad who lost his wife to terminal illness. One night he just couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. He made sure his children were sound asleep. He then had a shower and shed tears while the water was running so if any of them woke up they wouldn’t know what he was going. he relieved his tension and felt it a lot easier to help the children through their grieving process.


  • This is the stuff of nightmares.


  • A horrible tragedy to go through for this young girl and her father.


  • Such an awful experience. it’ll follow her and her dad the rest of their lives !
    Good to hear friends, family and community are providing love, support and help, hope and pray this may continue as long as they live. Bless them !


  • What a terrible tragedy! And one that little girl will never forget. I hope her dad remains strong for her


  • Terbble experience to go through. Praying you and your dad continue to get all the support you need. Love and hugs…


  • What a terrible experience for that girl to have lived through.


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