LAST CELEBRATION: Peter and Jan O'Donnell celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary in Yamba.
LAST CELEBRATION: Peter and Jan O'Donnell celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary in Yamba. Daily Examiner

Tragic death shocks Yamba

JUST 12 months short of his 50th wedding anniversary, Peter O'Donnell was still trying to come to terms yesterday with the freakish accident which took away his wife Jan.

The Yamba couple was at peace with the world just a few weeks ago.

It seemingly couldn't be going any better. They had their health, they were both active sports people and they had two loving daughters and two grandchildren.

Peter recalled the Monday night when it all changed.

“Jan had just finished cooking dinner and walked down to join me on the pontoon at the back of the house,” he said.

“We were admiring the new lights of a house on the canal and Jan was carrying a wine glass with her. Then I heard the crash which would change my life forever,” he said.

Jan had tripped on a small winch box on the pontoon and in a one-in-a-million chance fell to the ground puncturing her jugular vein with the wine glass at the same time.

“I was told later she probably died almost instantaneously, but I kept giving her mouth to mouth hoping to keep her alive while I waited for the ambulance to arrive,” Peter said.

Two ambulance teams attended the scene and continued to work on Jan, but it was all too late.

The couple's two daughters, Linda and Karen, have both come to Yamba to support their father.

Yesterday they were sitting alongside him as he told his story. They also are devastated to have lost their mother in such tragic circumstances.

“Mum taught us so much, she loved her home, she loved her bowls and most of all she loved life,” Linda said.

“We had the best childhood ever, she wasn't just our mum she was also our best friend,” she said.

Karen, who has two children, said that her mum was idolised by her kids.

“She attended my daughter's formal last year and was thrilled to hear that she was going to become a dental nurse, which is what mum did in her early years,” she said.

“Mum's death has taken away a bright light in our family's life, to have died the way she did just seems so wrong.”

Jan O'Donnell's funeral was held on Monday at St James Catholic Church Yamba and fittingly a large crowd of mourners paid their last respects.

“I'd like to thank Sister Maureen from the church for all her support during this most difficult time, also the people of Yamba who have been so strong in their support of my father,” Linda said.

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