AN eight-year-old girl who was the sole survivor of a horror crash that killed her mother and two siblings in northern New South Wales has spoken of how she escaped the sinking car.

Only three weeks ago, Chloe-May Kabealo's world changed when she managed to get out of the van her mother, Stephanie King, was driving.

The vehicle has plunged into the swollen Tweed River at Tumbulgum, which had flooded following a lashing from Cyclone Debbie.

Speaking at a fundraiser for the remaining members of the family - Chloe-May and her dad Matt Kabealo - the eight-year-old told of her miraculous escape.

Chloe-May Kabealo speaks to media at a fundraiser at Tweed Heads. Picture: Channel 7
Chloe-May Kabealo speaks to media at a fundraiser at Tweed Heads. Picture: Channel 7

"I unbuckled my seatbelt and I tried to go up for air, and then I just kept floating up out of something and then I got out," she said.

The girl managed to climb out of the river's bank and run to a nearby farmhouse where she was assisted by locals.

"They just took me in and let me get into clean clothes and cleaned up all my cuts on my feet," she said.

Chloe-May said the family had been supported over the past three weeks.

"We've been having heaps of people saying we're there for you and all that," she said.

Her father was not holding up so well.

"I'm shattered buddy, I'm not holding up," he told a news reporter at the Tweed Heads fundraiser.

"(I'm) just being strong for my daughter. We're just going to get through it the best we can."

Chloe-May Kabealo’s father Matt Kabealo speak at a fundraising event. Picture: Channel 9
Chloe-May Kabealo’s father Matt Kabealo speak at a fundraising event. Picture: Channel 9

Tweed Byron police co-ordinated the fundraiser which raised more than $10,000 for the grieving family.

"Nothing that we do could ever replace Chloe's two siblings, younger brother and sister, but anything we can do to make their life a little bit better we can," Senior Constable Brad Foster said.

Chloe-May said of her mum and siblings: "They were all loved and they'll never be forgotten."

Chloe May King leads the funeral procession, with her father (Matthew Kabealo) in the background carring her mothers coffin.
Chloe May King leads the funeral procession, with her father (Matthew Kabealo) in the background carring her mothers coffin. Scott Davis
News Corp Australia


'Our kids deserve it': $1 million skate park one step closer

'Our kids deserve it': $1 million skate park one step closer

It's taken many years and discussions to get to this point

Why our pets are the best mind readers

Why our pets are the best mind readers

Genuine instances of clever mental behaviour in the animal world

This festival is 'not for the sexually conservative'

This festival is 'not for the sexually conservative'

One of the workshops is titled Meditative Spanking For Pleasure

Local Partners