Stephanie Browitt, 26 years old, was in New Zealand going on a cruise with his parents and his sister. On December 9, 2019, they had booked an excursion to visit the island where the White Island volcano was located, but her mother preferred to stay on the boat. Sthephanie, her sister and her father made the excursion and when they came out of the crater they began to see black smoke coming out of the crater.
In just a few seconds, everything turned into a nightmare. Screams of terror and people running with all their might to get away from the place. “She was coming from behind, it got louder and louder as she got closer and she could hear the noise of all the rocks hitting the ground and people screaming. I thought that she would not survive, that she was going to die, ”Stephanie said on the show“60 minutes”, aired Sunday on Australian television 9Now.
The protagonist of the program recalled how hours passed until the rescue forces managed to rescue her and her father and transfer them to a hospital. Her sister did not leave the island and her body was found days. her father, Paul, died a month later due to the seriousness of the injuries sustained. Stephanie was in a coma for two months. He had 70 percent of the body with burns degree that forced her to undergo numerous operations during the six months she was in the hospital, including the amputation of her fingers and many reconstructive surgeries.
Precisely this past Sunday they published the first images of the consequences of the burns, which caused great damage to his head, back, torso and legs, the latter area in which he needed numerous skin grafts.
Despite the unimaginable physical pain she has endured, the most painful part for her has been learning to live without her father and sister. “I wish my father and sister were still alive. I wish I could get that day out of my head, it has caused me many sleepless nights and nightmares. There are many times when my mind won’t turn off. Even now, it still hurts a lot,” he stated.
In the absence of her loved ones, a fundamental pillar in her recovery and in the assumption of her new reality has been her mother Marie: “My scars are obvious, but she has hers that are not visible, but she has always made sure that I come first,” he said.
Stephanie and Marie are now in the process of suing Royal Caribbean by physical and psychological injuries that they suffered His attorney, Peter Gordan, said based on seismic activity reports available to the cruise ship company, the volcano was a “ticking time bomb” and they knew about it weeks before the tragedy occurred.
At approximately 2:11 p.m. on December 9, 2019, the volcano erupted and generated a toxic mushroom cloud of gas, ash and steam that rose above 3,600 meters and that killed 22 people and seriously injured 25 more. The event shocked New Zealand and Australia (where 14 of the victims were from) because there were families who spent a long time without knowing if their loved ones had managed to survive in what was considered the deadliest volcanic disaster in New Zealand since the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886.
Stephanie already recovered, decided to take a step forward and show the world as it is, after almost 1,000 with the head covered with a mask. Shortly before, she had already done it in front of his friends, with whom thus celebrated his 26th birthday. Now he just wants to look forward “to return to a life as normal as possible”, work, resume his social life and continue traveling.
Since the tragedy, Stephanie has become a burn advocate, sharing her long journey of recovery with her more than 1.5 million followers on TikTok and 102,000 in Instagram.
Despite this, taking off her mask in front of the cameras has not been easy for fear that viewers will judge her for her appearance. “Many people share their own stories about their personal problems. If my case can serve to inspire someone, it would mean a lot to me, “he added.
Stephanie is aware that no one should be ashamed of their scars. That’s why she hopes to continue learning to feel comfortable in my own skin. No matter what it is or how you have it, everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin.
‘“I am stronger than I ever thought I would be. I think I’ve learned that the struggle for survival is a real thing. He fought every day to survive. I never knew that I had that strength inside of me,” she concluded.