'She was holding her child': Police recover the bodies of a mother and two kids drowned in a flooded river

The Tweed River when cyclone Debbie hit Northern Queensland last week. Photo: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images

Police divers have recovered the bodies of a mother and two children from a car that plunged into the flooded Tweed River in northern NSW yesterday afternoon.

The incident occurred near Tumbulgum, just south of the border with Queensland. The bodies are yet to be formally identified. Police divers have not yet recovered the vehicle, but found her holding one of the children.

Another child, a girl aged 8, managed to escape from the car before it sank and raised the alarm. Her mother, Stephanie King 43, and two siblings, aged seven and 11, remained trapped in the vehicle which was carried around 40 metres downstream before sinking. Boats located the vehicle in around 5 metres of water on the northern riverbank.

The surviving child is now being cared for by father and police believe she escaped with help from her mother, who died trying to save her other children.

Superintendent Wayne Starling called King “a hero” who died trying to save her family.

“I have no doubt she would still be alive if she wasn’t trying to save her children,” he said.

“The mother was trying to get one of the children out of the car when she passed away. She was holding the child.”

Officers from Tweed/Byron local area command are investigating the exact circumstances surrounding the tragedy in the wake of cyclone Debbie.

A Gofundme page has been set up for King’s partner, Matt, a chef at the nearby Kingscliff bowling club.

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