Bodies of kiwi family found in flooded river

Former police officer Matthew Grinham was driving by flood waters at Tumbulgum on Monday afternoon when he saw a girl hysterically screaming while running along the road, yelling that her mum, little sister and brother were trapped in the river in the auto.

Her eight-year-old daughter Chloe May was somehow able to escape from the sinking vehicle but Ms King, her seven-year-old son Jacob and 11-year-old daughter Ella Jane fatally drowned.

One of Ms King's friends, Sally Fraser, described her as a devoted and "amazing mother".

Mr Grinham dived into the water and frantically searched for the auto, but to no avail.

"It's hard enough that this family has the loss, but for the public to think she was doing something that was negligent".

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

Grinham said he felt "helplessness" as he watched air bubbles surfacing in the river but "just couldn't find the car".

"They didn't have a chance". As soon as you opened your eyes underwater it was horrendous.

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. "They are just dire consequences on this occasion". "We swam around and dived down but we couldn't see a thing".

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"We share the anxiety and concern of those who have loved ones that are missing in the floods", Mr Turnbull said. "You had to keep coming up", he said.

"We were going down feet first trying to work out where the vehicle was", Mr Grinham told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

A nine-year-old girl miraculously escaped from upturned vehicle after it ran off Dulguigan Road at Tumbulgum.

"Then we tried diving a couple of times but the water was so brown and cold, the flood run off is freezing down there. They just got less and less".

Emergency services were called to Dulguigan Road in Tumbulgum about 1.40pm on Monday.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Jeff Loy said the tragedy would have a huge effect on the family and the Tweed community.

Chloe May was taken to the Tweed Hospital with cuts to her legs and neck pain.

After he gave up the underwater search, Mr Grinham took his tinnie out with a depth-sounder to make sure he knew the exact position of the vehicle. "That road was actually closed because of the debris and the mud on the road and we really understand that people want to get to where they need to be and live their lives normally, but this is an extreme event".

It's been reported the road the vehicle was travelling on was closed and covered in flood debris, but locals continued using it to get to homes in the area.

  • Adam Floyd