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Interview: Connie Lewis

Leonie:

All right, great. Thanks Connie.

Connie:

Oh. Cool.

Leonie:

Okay, so, all right. So you were telling me, so it was November 18, they live at [inaudible 00:00:12] near Griffith. 18 month drought, cows getting stuck in the dam and Connie’s mum… oh sorry. You’re Connie, obviously. What’s your sister’s name?

Connie:

Kim.

Leonie:

Kim.

Connie:

Kim, yeah.

Leonie:

So she’s your twin sister-

Connie:

Yeah.

Leonie:

-and your niece who died, what was her name?

Connie:

Her name’s Asha.

Leonie:

Asha. Okay.

Connie:

Yeah. And the father’s name is Jason.

Leonie:

Yep, Jason.

Connie:

And the boy is known as Jack. He was two at the time [inaudible 00:00:52].

Leonie:

Was that Seth?

Connie:

Sorry?

Leonie:

Did you say Seth? S-E-T-H?

Connie:

No, Jack, the son’s name is.

Leonie:

Oh, Jack.

Connie:

Jack, yeah.

Leonie:

Jack. Wow. I don’t know how come I heard Seth. Okay. Yep, Jack was two.

Connie:

Two yeah. And the other daughter’s name is Ella and she’s eight.

Leonie:

And how old was Asha?

Connie:

She was five.

Leonie:

Okay, all right. So go back to the story that you were telling. So you were talking about Kim dragging cows out of the dam and that after they’ve been in there for a while they can’t walk and she was going down with the tractor to try and pick them up, was she?

Connie:

Yeah, lift them up. Put a strap around them and under their stomach and stand them up and just trying to get them to walk again, basically. So on the day it happened, she went to the other side of the paddock that the dam was in and she was lifting up some cows that had gone down again. So and the father was with the children at the dam and he was putting a fence around the dam to stop the cows getting stuck in there. So they had a Land Cruiser Ute and Jason parked it on the sandbank but sort of going down. The Ute was facing downhill. And he put the hand brake on and he left the Ute running and Jack was in the Ute, so the two girls were just standing down by the [inaudible 00:02:45] and Jason was on the other side of the dam. And the handbrake failed and the Ute rolled down the hill, the bull bar knocked Ella out of the way but the Ute ran straight over Asha’s head.

Leonie:

Oh my god.

Connie:

Yeah. So then the Ute went into the dam with Jack in it. The other daughter, Ella jumped into the dam and got Jack out, which-

Leonie:

Oh wow.

Connie:

Yeah, I don’t know how she did, because I was in the dam a week later and I just walked in and was up to my waist in mud but she managed to get in there and carry him to the shore. And then by the time… then [Rhiannie 00:03:34] heard everything and had run around but… and he got her… he pretty much… she pretty much died instantly. So he put the kids in the car and he rang my brother, who’s next farm is the closest and then we rang to the [vero 00:04:04] and had to drive, because they’re out on the dirt track, they’re next to tar road. And my brother got there first and Jason and my brother Peter worked on her until the ambulance and the care flight got there. And then, I’m not sure, I think my brother rang my mum. She was having coffee with two of her friends so they got there as well. And then my sister, she didn’t have a phone on her or anything it was still in another Ute that was at the dam.

Connie:

I think it was in the Ute that went into the dam, actually. So she’d just come back with the tractor and saw the Ute was in the dam and no one was there. So-

Leonie:

Oh my god.

Connie:

Yeah, so she jumped in and got her phone out and I think Jason had just left a message saying, “Quick, get to the exchange box.” Which is where the ambulance was and there’s been an accident. So she just had to run down the road and then my mum come and picked her up, but by the time, yes so, Asha was obviously dead by the time my sister got to the exchange. So yeah, unfortunately the two other kids seen the whole lot, it was pretty [inaudible 00:05:50]. Because her head had been run over and there was just so much blood and-

Leonie:

Oh my god.

Connie:

Yeah. Luckily Jack, he still remembers what happened but he was young enough. But Ella had been struggling big time because she blames herself. She-

Leonie:

Oh no, does she?

Connie:

Yeah-

Leonie:

How does she figure that?

Connie:

Well, she said that she thinks that she should’ve pushed Asha out of the way before the Ute got her.

Leonie:

Poor thing!

Connie:

Yeah, and she thinks that it should’ve been her and not Asha and yeah. So, and she won’t sleep in the bedroom that her her and Asha used to share anymore.

Leonie:

Right.

Connie:

So that was one thing that I wouldn’t mind trying to get done, those bedrooms, so-

Leonie:

To have it redecorated so that she might feel better about being in there?

Connie:

Definitely. Yeah.

Leonie:

Where is she sleeping now?

Connie:

She sleeps with Kim and Jason.

Leonie:

Right, yeah. [crosstalk 00:07:01]

Connie:

Horrible nightmares and-

Leonie:

I bet she does. So they got access to counseling for all of them?

Connie:

Yeah, they are. Ella is having counseling, this is at school. My sister, she’s been seeing a lot of mediums and stuff because a year before it happened, I went and seen a medium before I moved from Western Australia to here and the medium told me that somebody close was going to lose a child.

Leonie:

Oh my god.

Connie:

And I instantly thought it was going to be one of my sister’s kids on the farm. So I rang mum and said, “This is what the psychic told me. I think it’s going to be one of Kim’s kids.” So then they both went and seen mediums but they didn’t say anything to her or my mum. And yeah, so, that was sort of… so she’s seeing the same medium that I seen. Which was good because she got into Asha for her and [inaudible 00:08:26] sort of dealing with it. Yeah, so, and obviously the father blames himself.

Leonie:

Oh my god, I bet he does. [crosstalk 00:08:40] bet he feels terrible.

Connie:

Yeah, definitely, so they both, everyone’s struggling, really, the whole family-

Leonie:

I bet you all are. I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine it. I’ve got kids that are not very much older and nephews and things that are all around the same age and I just can’t imagine it.

Connie:

Yeah, and I feel just helpless. So, I thought that this might be one thing that I can try and do to do something for them.

Leonie:

Yeah.

Connie:

So, yeah. Because the house is like an old farmhouse and it’s a bit dilapidated and it’s only got one bathroom that’s had a little water damage and yeah. So, the one thing that I thought that they might not do it is because they are not close to Sydney or Melbourne or wherever they say their shows are. But I thought it would be a good story for a show like that, because at the moment, with the drought and the farmers and stuff like that. It’s sort of a topic that a lot of people[crosstalk 00:10:03]

Leonie:

– stories and-

Connie:

Yeah.

Leonie:

-feeling toward a lot of viewers.

Connie:

Definitely. And not only were they suffering with the drought, now they’ve got this on top of it. So, they got rid of most of the… well, either the cattle, the ones that didn’t die and then they sold the other ones. But they’ve still got some sheep, it’s a dust bowl out there really.

Leonie:

Oh, definitely. So how many acres is the farm?

Connie:

Their farm is about, I think it’s about 2000 acres.

Leonie:

Yeah.

Connie:

Yeah. So, yeah. But the father’s now had to get another job to be able to support the family. So he’s working for the government taking… to make sure that the cattle are looked after that are on the boats going overseas. Which means that he’s away for three months at a time, so it’s now-

Leonie:

Oh, really. So he goes over on the export ships?

Connie:

Yeah.

Leonie:

Oh wow.

Connie:

So that means that he’s just had to leave my sister with Ella and Jack by herself, really. So that’s tough.

Leonie:

Oh my goodness. That’s [crosstalk 00:11:27]. Well, I think it’s definitely solace to be seeing a medium, but I think it would be great for your sister to be getting some counseling as well.

Connie:

Oh, definitely. I’ve told her to. I think they went to, her and her husband went to see a counselor once. So, yeah. I’m not sure. I think that she’s… yeah, she’s been going to see… she’s been getting Reiki and she went to a parent that has lost their children day. She’s sort of just going around in circles at the moment.

Leonie:

I bet she is. Oh my goodness.

Connie:

Yeah.

Leonie:

So does she know about the mental health scheme, you know with your GPs you get ten free sessions or some [inaudible 00:12:28] sessions for a year?

Connie:

Yeah, I think that’s the one, that’s what she was doing.

Leonie:

Okay, that’s good.

Connie:

Yeah. It’s hard to get her to go.

Leonie:

So where is she, how is it? Is she just wanting to talk it out, or is she just closed with her grief?

Connie:

No, she talks about it. I talk to her every day I’m not working and it’s just tears every day, really.

Leonie:

Oh, yeah. Of course.

Connie:

But luckily she’s got my parents next door [inaudible 00:13:12]. And the community has been amazing, as soon as Asha was buried out on the farm, right next to the house, they all sort of come in and did a big working bee and the other council dug the grave for free. But there’s still no headstone or anything, I think I sent a picture of the-

Leonie:

Yeah, you did. With the chute over the top.

Connie:

Yeah, with her blanket. And Kim just sort of lays out there. But it’d be really good to get somewhere where they can sit. You know, there’s just a bloody old plastic chair out there and it looks like they don’t really have time at the moment. I think they’ve been looking for a really big rock up in the hills behind the house for a headstone, but that’s… And then it’s hard because someone donated 250 plants, but then there’s not really enough water to be able to keep it going. So that’s been hard as… And I think someone from Griffith’s come out and put a [inaudible 00:14:25] system in for free, to keep the garden going. You had to take half a day to water it all by hand. So yeah. But that’s where they’re at at the moment. So we did do a “Go Fund Me” page but it was only up for a day and then the father made us take it down because he felt like he didn’t want to be seen as a charity case.

Leonie:

Oh, right. Yeah. So how will he feel about this?

Connie:

So I wanted it to be a surprise but then I thought after that, I better-

Leonie:

Yeah.

Connie:

-and my sister said, no, this is what she wants. So he knows about it and he thinks it’s fine.

Leonie:

Yeah, okay. Because this is the reality if it happens, then they’ll have to be on TV and, you know, talking about it and things.

Connie:

Yeah, well, my sister is the one that actually sent me through the living room, think she’s seen it, so.

Leonie:

Okay.

Connie:

Yeah, she definitely wants it to happen. So especially for Ella with the bedroom. Yeah, we can only give it a go and see what happens.

Leonie:

Yeah. For sure. All right. Well, it was really good to hear the story from you Connie. So I’ve got a recording of this now which is great because I can just go back and have a listen through it for bits and pieces. Yeah. So I’ll write out the story, and if you can send me a link to the living room in better homes, I can at least have a bit of an idea of what information they would be looking for. And then, you can just send it out and change its bits and pieces. See how you go. So I am away at the moment, and then yeah. I won’t have time to do it for probably two weeks. And then I’ll have some time and I’ll write it up and I’ll send it through to you.

Connie:

Cool. All right.

Leonie:

So how do you know Joanne, by the way?

Connie:

So, we used to work in the mines in Newman together.

Leonie:

Oh, right. Okay.

Connie:

So, actually we just went to Japan for two weeks together.

Leonie:

Oh, did you? I saw her pictures in Japan. Oh, was that an awesome trip?

Connie:

Yeah, it was so good. Yeah, just what I needed.

Leonie:

For sure.

Connie:

Joanne, she’s been my rock through everything.

Leonie:

Yeah, she’s a great woman, isn’t she?

Connie:

She is, definitely. Hopefully you can make it happen anyway.

Leonie:

Yeah. For sure.

Connie:

Cool. All right, well, thanks a lot for helping me out with this.

Leonie:

No worries. Great chatting to you Connie.

Connie:

Yeah, no. I hope you have a good holiday, hope you’re on a holiday [inaudible 00:17:47].

Leonie:

I’m away with my parents, but yeah I’m actually having a work day today so sitting in front of my computer.

Connie:

Oh, all right.

Leonie:

Pretty good that I can work remotely.

Connie:

Yeah, definitely. For sure.

Leonie:

All right. Well, I’ll-

Connie:

You have a good day and we’ll chat soon.

Leonie:

Yeah, we’ll be in touch soon. Okay.

Connie:

Thanks Leonie.

Leonie:

Thanks Connie, bye.

Connie:

Bye.

 

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