Australian, The, 29.01.2011, p9
FLANKED by her husband, Matthew, and her two surviving children, Maddison and Jacob, Stacy Keep yesterday began the heart-wrenching task of burying her family.
Mrs Keep, who is heavily pregnant, lost three family members when an 8m flash flood crashed through her Grantham home on January 10, including her 23-month-old daughter Jessica, who was ripped from her arms by the maelstrom.
Police are understood to have found a child’s remains, but are waiting for DNA results before confirming the identity.
Ms Keep also lost her mother, Dawn Radke, and her mother-in-law, Pauline Magner, who was farewelled by a crowd of hundreds in Gatton yesterday.
Outside Gatton’s Lutheran church, family member Brad Long said the ordeal had brought the family closer together.
“It’s tough,” he told The Weekend Australian. “We’re the closest family I know, so we’ve all been pulling together.”
During the service, mourners were told January 10 was “the day our world stood still”.
“Pauline was stolen from this earth in the most tragic circumstances,” celebrant Tonie Prasser said. “We cannot understand what has happened, but maybe some day we may be able to accept it.”
The service heard how Ms Magner moved many times in her life, before finally settling into her “dream home” at Grantham.
“Well it wasn’t really a dream home. The house they bought in Grantham was more of a nightmare,” a daughter told the service.
“We were absolutely horrified that she would buy such a wreck. The first time mum showed us around, one leg went straight through the floorboards.
“She just laughed it off and said: `Don’t worry. We’ll fix it.’ And she did. It was an amazing transformation.”
In Toowoomba, more than 400 mourners flocked to honour Steve and Sandra Matthews, who were swept to their deaths shortly after sealing away their two youngest children in their ceiling.
The heartfelt service featured a slideshow of photographs which were recovered from their devastated Spring Bluff home.
Addressing the crowd, Pastor Eric Trad recounted a recent conversation he had with Mr Matthews, who said God had visited him and told him not to plan for the new year.
“They had been telling close friends and family they would not live to be old people and that they would die together,” Mr Trad said. “Steve and Sandy were one in life, and in death, and will be forever.” Mr Matthews, a champion weightlifter, was remembered as “the strong man”, and his wife for her wisdom and devotion to family.
Their daughter Sarah Norman, who watched as the family home was engulfed by the flash flood, sang two songs at the funeral and dedicated them to her parents.
Her brother, Sam, 20, and sister, Victoria, 15, survived the tidal wave because their father had told them to climb into the ceiling.
Ms Matthews was trapped by a flying refrigerator and Mr Matthews died trying to save her.
Sam comfortedVictoria for an hour as the torrent hurled trees into the house and wrapped her in dry towels to keep her warm.
Mr Matthews, an electrician, was a highly-respected figure in the local Christian community, organising youth camps alongside his wife.
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