Heartwarming moment volcano survivor welcomed home
A young survivor of the White Island volcano eruption has taken to social media to share a heartwarming encounter with her family on the first day of leave from hospital.
Stephanie Browitt, 23, can be seen greeting her Rough Collie "fur baby", Arlo, at her family's home - on its first birthday - for the first time since the tragic event on December 9.
Stephanie has been hospitalised for the past six months after suffering third-degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and losing parts of her fingers in the eruption off the coast of Whakatāne, New Zealand.
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So after nearly 6months in hospital and definitely over 6 months since I’ve seen my fur baby, I finally got approval for Day leave. On my beautiful baby’s 1st birthday!!! 🥳🥳 And to say I got the best welcome back hug and cuddles from my dog is honestly an understatement! Mum had to try and stop him from jumping on me so I wouldn’t get clawed (she failed miserably and I honestly didn’t care lol). God he’s gotten amazingly larger since I last saw him as well 😯. But today couldn’t have been any better and it felt amazing to be back in my home even it was just for a day. #furbaby #puppy #dog #collie #birthday
Her younger sister Krystal, 21, and father Paul were among 21 people who died as a result of the eruption.
They were part of a group of 38 people from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship on a day trip to White Island.
The Melbourne family were touring the Bay of Plenty region as passengers on the Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas cruise liner at the time of the life-changing event.
Stephanie's mother Marie, who remained on board the ship that day, can be heard in the video uploaded onto TikTok, along with Arlo howling in excitement.
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On the 4th of Dec 2019, my family left on the #ovationoftheseas to enjoy another family cruise, however we were exploring a new place, New Zealand. Instantly we were enjoying ourselves and laughing at stupid inside jokes we’d made to embarrass each other. We had already stopped at 2 city’s in NZ and explored caves, nature and shops. On the 9th of Dec, we had no idea how our lives would change forever. Dad, Krystal & I visited the #WhiteIsland volcano. It took a 1 hour bus ride & 1 hour Jet boat ride which caused extreme sea sickness, to get there. Something we weren’t warned about before buying tickets by Royal Caribbean. There I took these photos among many more. (Group photos on my sisters phone sadly 😔) Photos that were meant to bring back happy memories in the future of where we had been together. After reaching the crater and having photos taken, we were heading back off the volcano, when at 2:11pm we looked back and saw ash coming out. Not thinking much of it dad said to take a picture. The front tour guide heard us, looked back, and screamed “RUN”. BANG. The WORST moment of my life. It was because of this I lost half of my family. It was because of this I’ve been through so much FUCKING pain with my “donor” sites. It was because of this I still do suffer physically and emotionally. It was because of this, nearly 4 months on I’m still not home. Because of this these photos are no longer good memories, they literally torture me. “Maybe if I wore ...., I’d be less burnt.” “Maybe if we didn’t stop so much, we’d all be here” “If we had only chose the other fucking tour instead....” Maybe if, what if.. blah blah. It’s done and I can’t change it now, but I can change how I choose to move forward. I know people hear this often, but please... keep your loved ones close and always remind them how loved they are. #whakatane #whiteislanderuption #nzeruption #whiteislandvolcano
"Oh my god, he's crying," she said.
"Is that Stephanie? Hi Stephanie, say 'hello' to your mum. Welcome home darling."
Wearing a mask and gloves covering her injuries, Stephanie can be seen waving to her mother in the video and excitedly caressing Arlo while telling him how much she loves him.
"I love you, I love you, I love you," Stephanie can be heard saying in the video.
"You've got me, you've got me, you've got your family."
Sharing the moment to Instagram, Stephanie said "it felt amazing" to be back home despite it being for just one day.
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To my dearest, most compassionate and caring sister, Krystal Eve Browitt. You were the most hard working and dedicated person I ever knew. You knew what you wanted and you always got it. Studying Veterinary nursing to achieve your dream job, you literally left yourself 0 spare time or time to sleep. You’d be doing full days at uni, come home and have 10 minutes to change into your woolies clothes and rush off to work completing a night shift till 12:30am. Only to come home and do homework/ assignments all night and then do the same thing the next day, except instead of uni sometimes you had placement at animal hospitals over an hour away. You never once complained. We told you to cut your work shifts down but work for you was fun. One time dad and mum fell asleep as it was a hot afternoon and I realised you had finished work over an hour ago. I woke them both up and when we called you to find out why you never asked where dad was, you said you didn’t really care because you were just talking with your friends. 😑 This year you were meant to graduate as a vet nurse.. and my god would you have been the most amazing and empathetic person towards the care of animals. Although one arvo after grabbing you from the station you said to mum and I “Guess what I did today?” “What?” “I stuck my arm up a horses ass!” Mum and I were left speechless whilst you had a fit of laughter! Always full of cheeky comments to get a reaction from us.. 😂Your love towards our fur baby’s was always noticed. Always wanting to show them off and hoarding them in your room like it was a zoo. Being with the animals brought you so much joy. I’ll miss the times where we tagged team to annoy dad. He would tell us we were being to loud so we’d start yelling at each other instead and fake laughing out loud to annoy him more. Or the moments where we were equally embarrassed with dad and mum because at restaurants dad would offer mum a drink of water and then pretend his arm was shaky and overfill her cup/ miss it on purpose and we’d be full of laughter.. one time with glass being shattered by accident, we had never ran away so fast. I’ll miss you everyday.. I need you. I love you. R.I.P ❤️💖
"So after nearly 6 months in hospital and definitely over 6 months since I've seen my fur baby, I finally got approval for Day leave. On my beautiful baby's 1st birthday!!! And to say I got the best welcome back hug and cuddles from my dog is honestly an understatement," she said in her post.
"Mum had to try and stop him from jumping on me so I wouldn't get clawed (she failed miserably and I honestly didn't care lol). God he's gotten amazingly larger since I last saw him as well. But today couldn't have been any better."
Donations are still flooding in to the Go Fund Me page to support the Browitt family - raising more than $79,000 of its $100,000 goal in six months.
Originally published as Heartwarming moment volcano survivor welcomed home