Krystal CAIN

     Krystal Cain. Photo: Facebook



Farmers tell of frantic rescue efforts as Gympie floods sweep Victorian father, daughter away

ABC Sunshine Coast
By Meg Bolton and Jennifer Nichols

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 said. 

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 Thompson said.

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 location. 

"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 pneumonia.

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 alive

Lucy Mae Beers 7 News

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 girl’s family.

“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 reporters.

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 Saturday.


Search expands for missing girl Krystal Cain, 14, as floodwaters recede in Gympie region

ABC Sunshine Coast
By Meg BoltonJacqui Street, and Owen Jacques

The family of Krystal Cain say they are "holding onto hope" as police continue their search for the missing 14-year-old in the Gympie region. 

Krystal was swept into floodwaters after she and her father, Lenny, became trapped in the early hours of Saturday morning

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 strategies."

'Looks like a war zone'

Acting Inspector Algie stressed that people should leave the search to the authorities. 

"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, divers, volunteers."


Update: Search for Krystal Cain, Booubyjan

myPolice on 

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 Krystal.

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 Lifeflight.

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 floodwaters

ABC Sunshine Coast January 28 2022
By Amy SheehanMeg Bolton, and Jennifer Nichols


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 floodwater.

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 said.

"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.

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.

Unbeknown to Lenny and Krystal, a torrential downpour from ex-tropical cyclone Seth had dumped more than 650 millilitres of water in areas across the Wide Bay, turning creeks into swollen, raging rivers and destroying everything in their path.

Their car didn’t stand a chance.

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 too late.

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 nearby gumtree.

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 below.

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 tree.

“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 said.

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 Bundaberg Hospital.

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 Krystal was.”

After he was winched to safety, the rescue helicopter scoured flood waters for Krystal.

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, and school.

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.

Krystal was officially listed as a missing person on January 26.