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Two months after New Zealand volcano eruption, an Australian mom woke up from a coma – only to learn her family died

Volcanic New Zealand island remains death trap
Days after New Zealand volcano erupts, island remains a death trap 01:50

An Australian mother who was with her family during the volcanic eruption on New Zealand's White Island in December spent two months in a coma from her injuries. When she regained consciousness two weeks ago, she learned her family had died in the disaster.

Lisa Dallow woke up in the intensive care unit and is now in the burn unit at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, her father-in-law, Brian Dallow, told Australia's Network 10 News.

He said the 48-year-old mother doesn't recall much about the incident, but said she remembers the moment the volcano erupted and people were screaming to "run."

New Zealand Volcano Erupts
This aerial photo shows New Zealand's White Island after its volcanic eruption on December 9, 2019. George Novak/AP

"She can remember getting hit by what she called 'boulders' from the explosion," her father-in-law told Network 10. "Getting lifted onto the helicopter, that's the last thing she can remember."

Dallow had to be told about the death of her husband, Gavin, and 15-year-old daughter, Zoe. "She knows they ran, but that's all," Brian Dallow said.

Gavin died while being transported to the hospital, Network 10 reports. A funeral was held for him last month with 600 people in attendance. The family delayed Zoe's memorial with hopes that Lisa will be able to attend. 

Lisa Dallow woke up from a 2-month coma to learn her daughter and husband died in the volcano eruption on New Zealand's White Isalnd last year. Obtained by Network 10

"Once Lisa is well enough, we've got to discuss what we do with Gavin's ashes because they're still sitting in the funeral parlor," Brian told Network 10.

For now, the family is "just trying to get on with life," he said, adding they were trying to do some volunteer work. 

Officials believe 47 people were on White Island when the volcano erupted on December 9. More than 20 people have been pronounced dead.

It has been too dangerous for authorities to return to the island to retrieve the personal belongings of the victims. However, Brian Dallow said the family did receive Gavin's backpack with some of Lisa's belongings, like a sweater and books.

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