The widow of a man who was killed alongside his father as they tried to protect their family home from a raging bushfire in NSW has spoken for the first time about her devastating ordeal.
Mr Salway died along with his 63-year-old father Robert as the Cobargo blaze ripped through their community.
His mother returned to the burnt-out property to discover her son’s body alongside her husband.
Reneee Salway told 7News her husband had promised he would be safe and would return for their three-year-old son as he and his dad stayed to fight the fire.
“The last words he said (were): “I promise I’ll be safe and I’ll be here for Harley,” she said.
“I’ll never forget that.”
Ms Salway recalled the moment her world came crashing down, receiving a phone call early on New Year’s Eve revealing her husband and her father-in-law had died.
“Everything just falls out of you... you feel like a vacant space,” she said.
Ms Salway, pregnant with the couple’s second child, remembered her husband, who she had dated since she was 15, as a loving father who loved their “simple life” together.
“If you ever wanted to see love, it was in Patrick’s eyes when he looked at Harley. It was something so special,” she said.
The young mother revealed if it wasn’t for her son, she too may have perished in the fire.
Ms Salway said she had planned to be with her husband as the fire encroached but after a call from her mother saying Harley had woken from a nap and was restless, she changed her plans and joined her mother and her son in nearby Narooma just hours before the fire swept through.
“He is the reason why I’m here,” she revealed.
Patrick Salway was a proud member of the dairy industry and a fifth-generation Cobargo farmer.
Hours after his death, Ms Salway took to Facebook to leave a touching tribute to her childhood sweetheart.
“I will see you again Patrick, my best friend,” she declared.
Mr Salway and his father are two of 25 people in NSW to have lost their lives in an unprecedented bushfire season.
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said the day of their funeral this bushfire season was the "darkest summer" in the state's history.
"I'm hoping we don't have a repeat next year, or the year after or for the next 10 years, but the reality is, we probably will.”
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