EXCLUSIVE: Survival expert reveals how three ‘miracle’ children stayed alive for more than two days in 30C heat after horror outback crash that killed both their parents – as family give update on recovery in hospital
- Three children under five survived 60 hours in 30C heat after fatal car crash
- Survival expert ‘Outback Mike’ detailed what probably kept the children alive
- Family and friends organised a GoFundMe page to raise money for the children
- Top child psychologist said a ‘strong support system’ is essential now for the kids
The survival of three children for nearly 60 hours in 30C heat after a car crash that killed their parents has been described as ‘a miracle’, as it’s revealed they are receiving psychological support.
The three children – aged five, two and one – were pulled from the family’s overturned Land Rover Discovery on Tuesday afternoon, two and a half days after the tragic accident.
Jake Day, who was driving, and his partner Cindy Braddock were already dead when the vehicle was found by a relative 10km away from Kondinin on Corrigin-Kondinin Road, 258km west of Perth.
Mr Day’s cousin, Michael Read, said Jake may have been too tired to drive when he pushed on to Kondinin.
The survival of three children for 60 hours in 30 degree heat in tragic Christmas Day car wreck has been described as ‘a miracle’
The five year old girl was hailed as a hero after she unbuckled her one year old brother freeing him from his seat
Amid the tragedy, the oldest child – aged just five – has emerged a hero.
She saved her one-year-old brother’s life by undoing the buckle of his car seat.
‘It is truly a miracle [the children survived],’ family friend Casey Guyer told Daily Mail Australia.
Ms Guyer, who organised a GoFundMe page for the children, added that ‘the support from the communities has been incredible’.
The traumatised children were flown to Perth Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, suffering severe dehydration.
WA Health told Daily Mail Australia the children are undergoing treatment by medical and psychological specialists.
‘All three children are in a stable condition. Emotional and psychological support is being provided to them.’
The family had left Northam, WA, at about 1am on Sunday and were heading home to Kondinin, some 200km away
The three children – aged five, two and one – were pulled from the family’s overturned Land Rover Discovery on Tuesday afternoon, two and a half days after the accident that killed their parents
Mike Atkinson, a former military survival instructor, told Daily Mail how lucky the children were to make it out of the wreck.
He said heat stroke could have killed the children if they were forced to wait much longer for rescuers to reach them.
Severe dehydration can cause the tongue to swell, making breathing more and more difficult.
Mr Atkinson said in hot conditions, three days without water for 72 hours is about the limit for most ordinary people.
Thankfully, the children were found after almost 60 hours.
‘It’s obviously the kind of thing that could go either way, so assuming the children had no major injuries, their main risks would have been heat injury.
‘Their body’s thermostatic regulation would have been able to keep them in a safe zone through sweating, but that sweating resource is finite. You can’t keep that up forever.
‘The body needs to sweat to maintain a safe temperature, but eventually, our bodies run out of water to sweat.’
He said the fact the car’s windows were broken helped the children.
‘Had the car been in full sun with the windows intact would be difficult to survive. A car in sunlight with the windows can get up to 60 degrees in a matter of minutes.’
HOW THE CRASH UNFOLDED
1am Sunday: Cindy Braddock, 25, Jake Day, 28, and their three children were driving 200km from Northam to Kondinin
The family were driving to Kondinin to spend Christmas with Mr Day’s mother
Just 10km away from Kondinin, the family crashed their maroon Land Rover
3pm Monday: Relatives reported the family missing
Just before 12pm on Tuesday: The family’s car is found by a relative 10km away from Kondinin on Corrigin-Kondinin Road
Both parents were found dead while their children, a five-year-old girl, two-year-old boy and a one-year-old boy survived
Cindy Braddock, 25, and Jake Day, 28, were killed when their their Land Rover Discovery left a remote WA highway and flipped
Mr Atkinson, a father to a boy and girl, said the bond between the children would’ definitely’ have helped get them through too.
‘It’s impossible to know how much mental state impacts different people, but some people can give up and pass away sooner.
‘We are hardwired to assist each other, and that desire is strengthened by your family member, particularly under the terrible mental stress of not being able to communicate with your parents.
‘That evolutionary desire to help is so strong, the five-year-old obviously loves her little brother.
‘We don’t realise that a five-year-old is a pretty capable human when they need to be.’
One of Australia’s top child psychologists warned that the fact the children were trapped for so long had the potential for ‘severe’ impacts in later years. Pictured, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
One of Australia’s top child psychologists warned that the children will need a lot of support in the coming years.
‘The death of a parent in childhood is a traumatic experience,’ said Dr Michael Carr-Gregg.
‘A child’s individual personality, and the amount of time that they were exposed to the event, can influence their response,’ Dr Carr-Gregg said.
‘Severe reactions are linked to the suddenness of the event and the degree to which the child was rendered powerless during the trauma.
‘Other factors, such as the duration of exposure to the trauma, and whether the vent was experienced in isolation, with other people can play a significant part in how a child responds.’
But he with a strong support system, the kids will process the loss and go on to thrive.
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