A friend of a woman who suffered horrific injuries after a boat exploded on the Hawkesbury River over the Easter break has described the victim as “beautiful and energetic”.
Slovakian-born Mirka manages an organic retail store and is “loved by her friends and the local community which she gives so much to”, a friend wrote in a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her ongoing treatment.
Mirka remains in the Royal North Shore Hospital, where she has been subject to multiple surgeries and treatments.
“Those who are close to her know how funny she is with her unconventional humour,” a friend named Joe wrote.
Mirka was celebrating her 30th birthday on board the boat, which was reportedly refuelling, when it burst into flames at a marina off Dangar Road at Brooklyn, north of Sydney, just after 5pm on Easter Sunday.
A dozen ambulance crews raced to the scene alongside specialist medical teams and rescue helicopters.
Paramedics treated eight patients suffering burns and smoke inhalation. Six of them were taken to hospital.
Four patients were rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital.
One was critical and three others were believed to be in a serious condition.
Two were transported to Westmead Hospital in a serious condition. They were then moved to Concord and were stable.
Mirka suffered “deep burns” to 30 per cent of her body – mainly her hands, arms, legs and torso – her friend said.
“Mirka is currently in the intensive burns unit undergoing skin grafting surgery and multiple other painful treatments,” Joe wrote.
“Roughly every three days she needs to have her wounds cleaned to remove the dead tissue so she does not get an infection. This is an extremely painful process which causes extreme fever after every procedure.”
Her recovery is predicted to be long and painful.
The campaign was established to help fund Mirka’s medical bills given she is on a bridging visa with no private health cover. Her friend said it was unclear how much of a financial burden long-term rehabilitation would have.
“Mirka has no family in Australia and in times like this … we appeal for community support so good people like Mirka have a small fighting chance to get through a traumatic experience like this,” Jo wrote.
Mirka’s Mexican-born friend Ale was also on the boat when it exploded.
She was in Australia on a student Visa and studying early childhood education, a friend said, describing her as “vibrant and beautiful”.
Ale suffered burns to about 60 percent of her body and is still in intensive care in a critical condition.
“She requires surgery roughly every two days to remove burnt (and) dead skin and tissue, and to clean her wounds,” a friend named Emily said in a GoFundMe post.
“To do this, they need to put her under general anaesthetic as it would be too painful if she were awake. She will require multiple skin grafts to help heal large areas that have been burnt and extensive surgery and rehabilitation over the next few months.”
Earlier, a postman from a small NSW community on the Hawkesbury River recalled the moment he was on the way to the pub on Easter Sunday when a loud explosion rippled through the air.
Cain Bettenson, 40, said he heard an “almighty bang, then a lot of screaming”.
He had just driven past the nine-metre cruiser as it was about to leave the Hawkesbury River Marina, but it exploded and flames quickly engulfed the vessel.
“I just hightailed it back down to my boat and got on it and saw the boat on fire,” Mr Bettenson told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time.
“Best way to do it was to drench it with water, so I used my propeller to spray the vessel.”
Mr Bettenson said one of the victims had “nasty” burns on both arms and legs.
“(I) just tried to keep her company with her partner, tried to keep them both calm,” he said.
“The victims that got burnt, they didn’t get off lightly.”