Dutch family mourns for Lennox drowning victim
By BREE PRICE
THREE weeks after Catharina Ilgen drowned at Lennox Head with her brother Peter Kirwood, her family in her native Netherlands are only today saying their final goodbye.
Mrs Ilgen, 80, was swimming with her 72-year-old brother in front of the Lennox Head Surf Club on March 9 when they were caught in a strong rip.
The youngest of her four sons, Carel Ilgen, said his mother's body did not leave Australia until last Saturday, after miscommunication between the Dutch funeral directors and NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.
He said initial requests to draw up the death certificate following the coroner's examination on March 14 were not received by the registry, causing delays.
After leaving Australia, his mother's body then remained at a London airport for two days, before a final flight to the Nether- lands was available on Monday night.
Mr Ilgen, 43, said the wait to lay his mother to rest was horrific.
"It's very frustrating and not something someone would expect from a civilised country such as Australia," Mr Ilgen said.
"My family is one of four families waiting for the chance to say goodbye to their mother and grandmother."
Mr Ilgen said his family also had to endure a lack of information about the circumstances of his mother's death.
"One of my brothers sent an urgent e-mail to the Dutch Embassy in Canberra with a request for information ? we never received an answer," he said.
"If we didn't have any relatives over there, we would know noth- ing up to this very moment."