Farmers Ken and Julie Thompson were still awake in the small hours of Saturday
morning when they saw car lights in the distance approaching the rising
floodwaters near their property west of Maryborough.
They looked on helplessly as the lights disappeared in the distant
darkness around 1:30am.
"We were still awake, we couldn't sleep," Ms Thompson said.
"I saw the car lights drive into the water. Then there was no lights. And there
was only hazard lights.
The car they saw was being driven by 53-year-old Victorian man Lenny Cain, who
was taking his 14-year-old daughter, Krystal, on a holiday to visit relatives in
Agnes Water on the Central Queensland coast.
Mr Cain's car was swept into floodwaters near the Thompsons' Booubyjan lucerne
property, near Gympie, which recorded up to 650 millimetres of rain on Friday.
The Thompsons have recounted the dramatic rescue of Mr Cain, but are devastated
that Krystal has not yet been found despite four days of searching.
'I heard a man screaming'
Around 9am on Saturday morning, Ms Thompson's worst fears were confirmed.
"I heard a man screaming and I yelled out to my husband to come help," she
As floodwaters turned her paddocks into a roiling river, she saw Mr Cain
clinging to a tree in the distance.
Trapped at their house on the hill, the couple tried to launch a jetski but soon
realised it was too dangerous.
"When we saw him in the tree we thought he was safe, he was holding on," Ms
They called emergency services and while they waited for the RACQ CareFlight
crew to arrive, they took turns at keeping Mr Cain in sight by using the scope
on their rifle.
It took two hours for the rescue helicopter to arrive, as it battled foul
weather and rescued more people along the way.
Battle to save father
Lifeflight said they flew more than 10 flood-related rescue missions on
Saturday, including rescuing a family from the roof of their home and another
family who had sheltered in their car.
Using their rifle scope, the Thompsons guided the rescue crew to Mr Cain's
"They took two attempts, and they got him on the second, they lowered a man on a
cable but he was smacking into the trees on the first time," Mr Thompson said.
"When he got out of the helicopter, he was in shock.
An exhausted and devastated Mr Cain was taken to Bundaberg Hospital for
treatment. He has now been discharged from hospital with broken bones and
Emergency services are continuing their search for Krystal, and a Go Fund Me
page set up for the family has so far raised $2,700.
"Krystal was a bright soul with the world at her fingertips. She was swept away
in flood water in a once-in-a-lifetime flood near Booubyjan, (near
Gympie) Queensland," the page says.
Queensland family of teen swept away in flood clings to hope she’s still
The family of a teenage girl missing in Queensland flood waters continue to
cling to hope she will be found alive.
Krystal Cain, 14, was swept away north of Brisbane after abandoning a car caught
in a flash flood last Friday night, triggered when the remnants of cyclone Seth
dumped more than half a metre of rain on the region.
The teenager was with her father Lenny, who was spotted by rescue crews in a
helicopter after two hours.
He frantically told the emergency crews his daughter was gone.
Lenny had a chest infection from being in the water for so long and suffered a
heart attack from the stress of the ordeal.
The 53-year-old has been discharged from hospital and has been left to wait in
agony for any news on his missing daughter.
Krystal’s aunt, Aundreaou Cain, told 7NEWS the
teenager could light up any room.
“When you first meet her, she’s super quiet and then when she opens up to you
are in this envelop of warmth,” she said.
“She’s outgoing, she’s fun-loving and has a smile that lights up a room.”
Police hold “grave concerns” for Krystal and a GoFundMe
page has been set up by her aunt to aid the search effort.
“It’s to help continue the search for Krystal and when they bring her home, to
help with the recovery process,” Ms Cain said.
The GoFundMe page has raised almost $5000.
Krystal and her father were on their way to visit grandparents when they were
swept away in the rapid floodwaters.
Water police, divers, volunteers and helicopters are assisting with the search,
and Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said his thoughts are with the
“I have a daughter who’s 14 years old, so I can understand the terrible,
terrible time that family must be going through at the moment,” he told
The prime minister also gave his condolences to the family of a 22-year-old man
whose body was found in a submerged ute at Kanigan, north of Gympie, on
Search expands for missing girl Krystal Cain, 14, as floodwaters recede in
Her uncle Steve Cain said the family are supporting each other as emergency
services search for his "fun-loving" niece.
"Krystal had the world at her feet and while we aren't giving up hope just yet
we are realistic," Mr Cain said.
"She's a bright, bubbly young girl who loves all animals and anime drawing."
The Victorian father and daughter were on their way to visit family in Agnes
Water on the central Queensland coast but became trapped in the Booubyjan area,
where some locals received 900 millimetres of rain.
Up to 10 metres deep
District disaster coordinator Acting Inspector Paul Algie said the search for
Krystal would expand "over the coming days and weeks" as floodwaters subsided
and more land became accessible.
He said accessibility issues had plagued emergency services who had been trying
to locate Krystal since 3am Saturday when her father called emergency services.
"The car has entered floodwaters, which have swept their vehicle off the road,"
Acting Inspector Algie said.
"The father subsequently contacted triple-0, stating that he and his daughter
were stuck in floodwaters with the car filling up with water."
He said Krystal and her father were separated when they exited their car.
"Emergency services were immediately deployed … these officers were unable to
immediately reach the scene due to heavily impacted roads," he said.
"In some areas, the water was up to 10 metres deep."
Mr Cain was airlifted to Bundaberg Hospital on Saturday but emergency services
were unable to begin extensive land and water searches for Krystal until Sunday
afternoon when flooding had receded.
Acting Inspector Algie said emergency services were continuing a
10-kilometre-long search from where Krystal was last seen in the water.
"We have grave fears for the missing child but we'll continue to work through
all available air and land strategies to try and locate her," he said.
"We will just continue, as we can, to access different areas, using different
'Looks like a war zone'
Acting Inspector Algie stressed that people should leave the search to
"I cannot say strongly enough, this environment is incredibly dangerous and it's
only suitable for trained experts. Please do not come out," he said.
"Driving along the Burnett Highway towards Booubyjan looks like a war zone.
"We have experienced searchers already succumbing to heat stress [and] leg and
ankle injuries due to the difficult terrain."
Mr Cain thanked emergency services for their tireless work.
"I would personally like to thank all the rescuers, police, swift rescue,
A large-scale search operation for 14-year-old Krystal Cain
caught in floodwaters at Booubyjan during the early hours of Saturday,
January 8, will be scaled back.
Queensland Police have been coordinating the air, land and water search for
Krystal near the Burnett Highway and Murgon Gayndah Roads.
Despite a thorough examination over the last thirteen days by Queensland
Police divers, officers on foot, horseback, use of ATVs, aerial assets
including drones, search crews have been unable to locate any sign of
Human Remains Detection Dogs and specialised search officers have also
joined the search this week and drones will be continued to be used within
the 10km radius where she was last seen.
Krystal was a compassionate, bright and bubbly girl who loved art and
English at school. She was a fantastic sketcher and had a love of music.
Police would particularly like to acknowledge the assistance provided by
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services personnel, SES volunteers and
Krystal’s family has been notified and remain supportive of the efforts of
all emergency services, and our thoughts remain with her family and friends
at this difficult time.
Krystal Cain's family says life is 'forever changed' by her loss in
A 14-year-old girl who was washed away in floodwaters in the Gympie region
will remain listed as a missing person, with search efforts now scaled back.
Krystal Cain was driving with her father Lenny Cain to visit family in Agnes
Water when they were caught in floodwaters on the Burnett Highway at
Booubyjan west of Gympie in the early hours of January 8.
The pair escaped from the vehicle but became separated while wading through
Krystal's father was rescued by emergency services after clinging to a tree
for several hours, but the teenager was washed away.
Her aunt Petrina Cain thanked emergency services for their efforts and
said the family's lives were "forever changed".
"On behalf of my family I would like to thank the Goomeri community and
surrounding areas for all of the effort that you have all put into finding
our beautiful daughter, sister, granddaughter and niece, Krystal," she said.
The teenager's family has described her as a compassionate, bright and
bubbly girl who loved art and English at school and had a love of music.
Family grateful for actions of first responders
Emergency services searched a 10-kilometre area for a fortnight before
announcing the search would be scaled back.
"A special thank you to Sergeant Dave Gillies, the volunteers and emergency
services that worked tirelessly and endangered your own lives in the search
for her," Ms Cain said.
Ms Cain said the family was extremely grateful to have had Mr Cain brought
home safely and thanked the couple who came to his aid when they heard his
cries for help.
"Our special thoughts and prayers go to Julie and Ken Thompson who kept my
brother alive and in their sights," she said.
"A selfless act whilst waiting for him to be rescued.
Debris hampering search efforts
Despite a thorough search by Queensland Police divers and officers on foot
and horseback using ATVs and aerial assets including drones, search crews
have been unable to locate any sign of the teenager.
Goomeri Sergeant David Gillies said it was disappointing, especially for the
family to not have a result.
"And I couldn't quite understand what it would be like as a family member to
receive that call.
"But we always try and we never give up hope. There's still hope that we may
yet find her in the future."
Sergeant Gillies said large amounts of debris were hampering search efforts.
"Just the sheer amount of debris is hard to fathom until you see it," he
"That's what's hampering [finding] Krystal."
Sergeant Gillies said police would revisit parts of the search ground over
the coming weeks to try to get a result for the family.
"We'll go back and revisit those sites," he said.
"We'll do some more searches when weather permits as creek beds and things
change to maybe allow a little bit more to be investigated."
Sergeant Gillies said he was grateful for the support of fellow emergency
service personnel, in particular Goomeri Fire Chief Dean Wardell.
"He was by my side every day."
‘Hang onto me’: Tragic final words as daughter taken by ‘violent’ floods
The father of missing teen Krystal Cain has revealed details of the
horrifying moment his daughter was swept away in floodwaters, as he pushed
through a heart attack mid-ordeal.
THE last words 14-year-old Krystal Cain heard her father Lenny
say were “hang onto me, and we’ll hang onto this branch”.
Seconds later, she was swept away in “violent flood waters, still
desperately trying to cling to the broken branch.
That was three weeks ago.
Now, for the first time since the traumatic flooding
event that took his daughter, Lenny has spoken exclusively with
the Gympie Times, recounting exactly what happened during those
hellish 13 hours he waited for help and his last moments with
Krystal before she disappeared.
In the dead of night on January 8, 2022, Lenny, 53, was driving his silver
2001 Toyota Camry along Murgon Gayndah Rd at Booubyjan, near Gympie with his
beloved artistic teen daughter in the back seat, happily sketching.
They had made the journey from Echuca, Victoria and were on a road trip to
visit Krystal’s grandparents at Agnes Water, near Gladstone.
The plan was to drive inland through the country town of Biggenden, a route
Lenny knew well.
He said the roads were clear and there was no sign of danger at the time.
While driving across a bridge on Murgon Gayndah Rd, near the intersection of
the Burnett Hwy, they heard a loud thud as the car struck a pothole.
The Camry was dead, leaving them stranded in the middle of the bridge as the
creek below them began to rise.
Lenny put the hazard lights on and got out of the car to investigate while
Krystal remained in the back seat, fixated on her drawing.
When the water first crept up over the bridge it barely touch his tyres but
within minutes it was pouring through the windows of the broken down car.
Using an extension cord tied between them as a lifeline against what Lenny
described as a “violent” current, he and Krystal abandoned the car and
leaned against the driver’s side door.
“I was hoping the water would pin us to the car and not come any higher,
because that was our safety barrier, it was holding us there,” he said.
But then, they felt the car being ripped off the road, and it was taking
them with it.
Lenny said Krystal noticed this first, but realised their cord was caught on
something inside the car.
She quickly untied herself to avoid being dragged away, but it was already
The gravity of the car being washed away sucked Lenny and Krystal into the
floodwaters, and they were swept 10 metres downstream before Lenny saw a
Running on adrenaline, Lenny did what any parent would do and pushed Krystal
to safety first, on a high branch, while he fought against the current.
Then, he felt shooting pains down his left arm.
Tests would later confirm a heart attack but he was determined to keep
himself and Krystal alive until they could be rescued.
“I don’t know how I did that … I was weak,” he said.
“We had to keep climbing up higher and higher as the water kept rising.
“I just kept telling her, ‘we’ll be okay, someone will find us’.”
The higher they climbed, the weaker the branches became, and after five
hours, a blood curdling snap underneath them confirmed their worst fears as
they were plunged back into the creek.
They were swept further downstream until Lenny made a second attempt at
safety with a new tree, again pushing his daughter to a high branch before
climbing up himself.
By now, the darkness had subsided, and for the first time, Lenny and Krystal
could see exactly what they were up against.
“Night time wasn’t so scary, because we couldn’t see what was going on
around us, but day time was horrifying,” he said.
He said the roar of the raging torrent below was deafening, with only the
sound of debris smacking against the tree to separate the noise.
They clung to safety for another five hours, hoping and praying they were
safe and help was not far away.
What happened next would haunt Lenny for the rest of his life.
“I felt some of the other branches on the tree breaking,” Lenny said.
Terrified and knowing there would likely not be a third chance at safety, he
clung to his terrified daughter.
“I said ‘hang onto me, and we’ll hang onto this branch’.”
Those would be the last words Krystal ever heard her father say.
There was an almighty crack, as Lenny and Krystal again fell into the waters
As Lenny hit the water, he found himself pinned under by his T-shirt, where
he stayed for a minute and a half before he miraculously escaped and
scrambled to the surface.
When he emerged, Krystal had vanished.
With nothing left to hold onto, Lenny was taken by the current and swept an
estimated 100 to 200 metres downstream before he was slammed into a third
“I managed to climb onto one of those branches there, and I was looking for
Krystal everywhere but I just couldn’t find her, I couldn’t do anything,” he
Lenny screamed his daughter’s name over and over but there was no reply.
Alone, terrified and heartbroken the only thing Lenny could do was continue
to scream for help, hoping someone would hear him.
He was spotted by Booubyjan farmers Julie and Ken Thompson, who called
rescue crews to get Lenny to safety.
He said Mrs Thompson had witnessed Krystal floating away through one of
their paddocks, but lost sight of her after she saw Lenny.
He was winched to safety after two more hours clinging to the tree, and in a
state of shock, told his rescuers “my daughter is gone, I’ve lost my
daughter, I can’t find her”.
“I was devastated because I couldn’t see Krystal and the water was just so
violent, and I just feared the worst straight away,” he said.
“There is just no way possible anyone could have survived that torrent.”
Lenny was taken back to the Thompson’s house for treatment, and then to
As well as the medical episode in the water, Lenny suffered a fractured
elbow, lost several teeth including one which became lodged in his lung,
severe bruising, pneumonia and an overwhelming sense of guilt.
“I feel like I let her down,” Lenny said.
“I kept promising her all the way through that we would be okay and someone
would rescue us, and it didn’t happen.
“I would gladly swap my safety for hers.”
He said he owed Mrs Thompson his life for spotting him in the tree.
“I didn’t think I would survive,” he said.
“I’ve never been so scared in my life, and I can’t imagine how scared
After he was winched to safety, the rescue helicopter scoured flood waters
It was the first attempt in what would become a three-week search through
water, still 10m deep in some parts and in an area a senior police officer
likened to a “war zone”.
Now living in Agnes Water with Krystal’s grandparents, Lenny still hasn’t
given up on a miracle.
“I still have that hope, and hopefully she is out there somewhere, isolated
somewhere on a property,” he said.
“I won’t give up that hope.”
He described Krystal as an “amazing child” with a passion for art, animals,
She was about to start year nine at Echuca College, with a promising future
as an anime cartoonist.
“She could sketch these things after just looking at a picture, and the
level of detail was just amazing,” he said.
Lenny, who was a tattooist when he lived in Ballarat, said a love for art
was something he and Krystal shared and bonded over.
“She had so much love to give; we were extremely close.”
The search for Krystal was officially scaled back on January 21, but Lenny
said he was beyond grateful for the amount of effort put in to find her.
“She had the world at her feet, she was my baby,” he said.
He also wanted to thank the numerous people involved in the search for
Krystal, and the kind-hearted heroes who saved his life along with his
family for their unwavering support, Goomeri police officer Sgt Dave Gillies
who led the search for Krystal, every emergency service worker, Graeme
Healy’s Wholesale Cars in Bundaberg for helping him with a new car, the
Thompsons for saving his life, and the Bundaberg Hospital staff for caring
for him after the series of traumatic events.