The father of a six-year-old girl who was killed when a car driven by an 86-year-old woman reversed into her family at a Sunshine Coast shopping centre has paid tribute to his daughter as his “moon and back”.
Indie Armstrong and her family were on a pedestrian crossing when the crash happened on Sunday afternoon.
A witness said two children were sent flying by the impact. Indie was taken to Nambour Hospital where she later died.
Her father Jason shared a photo of his little girl on his Facebook page overnight and received an outpouring of love from friends and family.
Jodie Alexander Platt wrote: “Your precious little sweetheart. There are no words to measure such heartbreaking devastation — I’m just so so sorry for your immeasurable loss and pain.”
Carolyn Stevens wrote: “We’re all in shock over here. So so sorry Jason and Emily, our thoughts and prayers are with you all xoxox.”
The girl’s parents live in Yandina, near Nambour, and run the North Buderim Butchery shop, where flowers have been laid this morning.
Grandmother, eight-year-old sister in hospital
Indie’s 57-year-old grandmother and eight-year-old sister Lily were also hit by the car and remain in hospital.
Authorities said the eight-year-old had suffered non-life-threatening leg injuries. The girls’ mother also suffered minor injuries.
The 86-year-old driver was not injured.
No charges have been laid.
Police Senior Sergeant Matt Campbell said the incident was being investigated by the Forensic Crash Unit.
“It’s still very early days in the investigation but what I can tell you is that there is an 86-year-old female driver that is assisting us in our inquiries,” he said.
Call for donations to help family
A fundraiser launched for the Armstrong family through GoFundMe had this morning raised close to $5,500 in nine hours for the grieving family.
The woman behind the fundraiser, Caitlin Fraser, said the Yandina family “really just need some time to grieve and get through this extremely hard and heartbreaking time ahead of them”.
“Their eldest Lily has suffered leg injuries and is in hospital currently getting treatment,” she wrote.
“Grandmother Sandy was also critically injured and is currently undertaking numerous surgical procedures.
“They are small business owners on the Sunshine Coast and really just need some time to grieve and get through this extremely hard and heartbreaking time ahead of them.
“With a funeral to organise and medical expenses for the other family members any donations would be greatly appreciated and would allow this family the time to grieve their beautiful daughter and help with expenses during this time.”
‘Heartbeat of the community’
On Sunday night, dozens of Nambour residents gathered at a nearby park for a candlelight vigil to mourn the young girl.
The Shack Community Centre (SCC) in Nambour has also offered its services to anyone who feels they need support following the girl’s death.
SCC Pastor Dale Dowler said there were “hearts broken” across Nambour, but the support shown for this family — who many didn’t know personally — shows the “heartbeat of the community”.
“They want people to feel loved and cared for,” Pastor Dowler said.
He said people at the vigil prayed not just for Indie and her family but also the woman who was behind the wheel.
Pastor Dowler said he hoped the community support provided some small comfort for the families.
“As a dad, I don’t know how you come back from this, but to know that you have people around you who know you and love you, but also others who don’t know you but love you, it must be very comforting,” Pastor Dowler said.
A parent at the North Arm Primary school, Sharon Whiteman, said the local school community was shocked.
“There is just no winners in the situation our hearts go out to Emily and Jason and their families,” Ms Whiteman said.
“The grandmother is unwell and hopefully recovering, and Lily with a broken leg.
“There’s obviously a big thread in the North Arm parents and carers group of people offering support and shock and expressing themselves.”
Ms Whiteman said there would be a morning tea at the school this morning “for anyone who needs to talk and debrief with each other at 9:00am after drop-off”.
“There’s other families that have started a fundraiser because they’re [the Armstrong family] small business owners and are obviously going to need some time to only focus on their families,” she said.
“I think it’s times like this that the community makes a big difference.”
Deanne Pokarier said her husband was on scene shortly after the accident and said she went to Sunday night’s candlelight vigil to pay her respects.
“We have a six-year-old ourselves, so it was all a little bit overwhelming — banding together, it shows we care about each other,” she said.
“Something tragic has happened and something really should be put in place so that it never happens again.”
The Nambour Alliance business group also paid tribute to the family on Facebook.
“The Nambour Alliance, on behalf of the board, staff and members, extend our heartfelt sympathies to Jas, Emily and Lily Armstrong of Yandina, their extended family, friends and the Yandina community as they come to terms with the loss of little Indie in Nambour today.
“Rest in peace sweet angel — our thoughts and blessings are with you all and everyone involved in this terrible tragedy.”