A White Island volcano survivor who lost her father and sister in the tragedy has revealed the two things that kept her going on the difficult road to recovery.
Melbourne woman Stephanie Browitt, 24, was touring the White Island when a volcano erupted off the coast of Whakatane in New Zealand on December 9, 2019.
The young woman suffered severe burns to 70 per cent of her body but her father Paul and her younger sister Krystal were among the 22 people that lost their lives.
White Island volcano survivor Stephanie Browitt (pictured) recently revealed her dog Arlo was one of her biggest motivators to get better
Stephanie spent six months recovering in hospital before returning to her home in Melbourne where she lives with her mother Marie.
She has lost parts of her fingers and is healing her burns by wearing compression garments on her face and body.
The inspiring young woman regularly shares insights into her recovery on social media, sharing updates on her burns and photos of her father and sister.
In her latest Instagram post, Stephanie revealed she has fought hard to recover to ‘not only to be back home with my mum but to also see my fur baby again’.
Stephanie (right) lost her father Paul (left) and her sister Krystal in the blast on December 9, 2019
She revealed her dog Arlo was only six months old when the tragic blast happened, and said it pained her to know he was growing up as she recovered in hospital.
Stephanie said she knew her furry friend was suffering in a different way, confused as to where his family had gone.
‘He was my motivation and because of him I kept going and never gave up. He truly is the biggest joy of my life, his eyes always filled with love and admiration!’
Stephanie suffered painful burns to 70 per cent of her body, lost parts of her fingers, and wears compression garments on her face and body to aid the healing process
Stephanie said her reunion with her ‘best friend’ after six months apart was ‘full of love’ and said Arlo ‘couldn’t have been more excited’.
Once settled at home, Stephanie decided to set a goal of being able to hold Arlo’s leash firmly and be able to walk him again.
‘He definitely makes it hard sometimes, 35kg of fluff pulling me every time he wants to make another dog friend… but it’s so worth it,’ she wrote.
Earlier in the month, Stephanie paid tribute to her ‘number one supporter’, sharing a photo of her mother Marie for her birthday.
Earlier in the month Stephanie wished her mother Marie a happy birthday, paying tribute to her ‘best friend’ and ‘number one supporter’
‘It’s no longer a Happy Birthday for my mum, but I’m so thankful for every year that my mum is still here with me,’ she wrote.
Marie Browitt was the only member of the family to stay on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship when the volcano erupted.
Stephanie said because her mother wasn’t physically hurt by the eruption, nobody can understand the true depth of her pain and suffering.
She described how her mother had to pack the families holiday luggage and bring it back to their empty Melbourne home that was usually filled with love and laughter.
In a recent Instagram post Stephanie (left) revealed her younger sister Krystal (right) was buried with their father Paul
‘Then eventually she had to organise both my dad and sisters funeral. She went home alone in a taxi upon burying her family. Her screams were heard,’ she wrote.
Thirteen parties have been charged over the deaths of the 22 people who died in the volcanic eruption on a New Zealand island back in 2019, 14 of them Australians.
Tours to the White Island continued despite warnings of a heightened risk of eruption, sparking an investigation into the Whakaari volcano.
‘This deeply tragic event was unexpected. That does not mean it was unforeseeable,’ WorkSafe NZ chief executive Phil Parkes said.
‘There were 47 people on the island at the time of the eruption, all of whom suffered serious injuries and trauma.’