The mum of two kids killed in a plane crash alongside their dad and the pilot near Brisbane on Sunday has revealed that she was wrapping their Christmas presents when she received the devastating news.
Lucas Mocanu, 9, Lavinia Mocanu, 10, Cris Mocanu, 41, and Robert Watterson, 67, died when the single-engine light aircraft they were in crashed into the water in Redcliffe shortly after take-off, coming to rest upside down.
Mr Mocanu had surprised his son with the joyride as a belated birthday present, the kids’ mum Catherine Di Blasio, who is separated from their dad, told The Courier Mail this week.
Ms Di Blasio, who moved from Canada to Australia 14 years ago, said she didn’t know Lucas and Lavinia were going on a flight.
"[Lucas] had a recent birthday in November and his dad told them that it’s a surprise, a present, but all he said it was an experience that you will love," Ms Di Blasio said.
When the trio didn’t return by lunch, Ms Di Blasio began calling Mr Mocanu but it was out of service.
"Then I thought they were ringing my doorbell but when I opened the door there was three child protection service detectives and they told me the bad news," she told The Courier Mail, adding that one of the men struggled to tell her.
"When they came to my house, the detectives, I was wrapping the kids’ Christmas presents."
The mum, who said she bought the pair new clothes and a gold chain they each wanted, was looking forward to them opening the gifts on Christmas morning.
"They had never had any gold in their lives and I thought they deserve it," she said, explaining that she had dipped into her savings to do so.
Ms Di Blasio’s family are now coming to Australia from Canada to support her as she grieves her two children and former partner.
A family member has created a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the mum deal with “every parent’s worst nightmare”.
"Catherine adored her children and is a much loved and hard-working registered nurse who has worked tirelessly through this pandemic, so let's all get behind them and show our support and give them the wonderful send off that they deserve," it reads.
Investigation into crash underway
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau have begun collecting evidence after the plane was recovered near "quite inaccessible" mangroves off Scarborough.
On Sunday, the wreckage was taken to a secure location at the Redcliffe Aerodrome so investigators could try and recover specific components to send to Canberra for analysis.
Recorded data, weather information, and pilot and maintenance records will also be examined, and ATSB investigators have begun interviewing witnesses and those involved.
Four people - two from Brisbane and two from Canberra - are confirmed dead after a joy flight flipped in waist deep water near mangroves, following its departure from Redcliffe Aerodrome this morning. The plane had experienced engine trouble @7NewsBrisbane @7NewsAustralia pic.twitter.com/789tX2znYX
— Jordan Bissell (@jordan_bissell7) December 19, 2021
Quarry, mining and forestry supply business Lincom Group has paid tribute to its founder who lost his life in the crash.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Roy Watterson, our chairman and founder, along with Chris Mocanu, our National Hire Fleet Coordinator and his two children," it said in a Facebook post on Monday.
"The loss has been deeply felt across the entire Lincom team."
Mr Mocanu worked for Mr Watterson and had asked his boss if they could take his kids for a plane ride because they would "love it", Ms Di Blasio said.
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