Widow of man who died fighting bushfires opens up on fateful moment that saved her life
The widow of a man who tragically passed away alongside his father while trying to protect their NSW family property from bushfires has spoken out for the first time.
Renee Salway lost her husband Patrick Salway, 29, on New Year's Eve. Mr Salway died along with his 63-year-old father Robert as the Cobargo fire ripped through their community.
His mother returned to the burnt-out property to find her son’s body alongside her husband.
Before tragedy struck the Salway family, Renee says her husband had made a promise that he would be safe and return to their three-year-old son before he left to fight the bushfires ravaging his home alongside his family.
“The last words he said (were): “I promise I’ll be safe and I’ll be here for Harley,” she told Seven News.
“I’ll never forget that.”
Ms Salway recalled the horrifying moment she learnt her husband and father-in-law had died on New Year’s Eve.
“Everything just falls out of you... you feel like a vacant space,” she said.
Ms Salway is pregnant with the couple’s second child and had started dating Mr Salway when she was just 15.
She described her husband as a loving father who loved the “simple life” they shared.
“If you ever wanted to see love, it was in Patrick’s eyes when he looked at Harley. It was something so special,” she said.
The young mother revealed if it wasn’t for her son, she too may have perished in the fire.
Ms Salway said she had planned to help her husband and father-in-law as the fire encroached on their family property but had received a call from her mother saying Harley had awoken from a nap and had become restless.
In that moment, she made the snap decision to return to her mother and son just hours before the fateful fire swept through, and by doing this sealed her own fate.
“He is the reason why I’m here,” she revealed.
Patrick Salway was a proud member of the dairy industry and a fifth-generation Cobargo farmer.
Hours after his death, Ms Salway took to Facebook to share a touching tribute to her childhood sweetheart.
“I will see you again Patrick, my best friend,” she declared.
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott declared that the day of their funeral this bushfire season was the "darkest summer" in the state's history.
"I'm hoping we don't have a repeat next year, or the year after or for the next 10 years, but the reality is, we probably will.”
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