The pain that never leaves brave Emma
Published 31/01/2013 | 08:00
"I think I remember someone saying, 'They're all in the tank.' Someone tried to move me away. I stopped them and got on to the ladder."
With those stark, clipped words Emma Rice summed up to an inquest this week, unimaginable horror - the decision to enter the slurry tank where her two brothers and her father had already succumbed to lethal fumes.
Emma was unable to save them.
That she tried, that she risked her own life to do so, and that others, friends and neighbours risked theirs in turn to save hers are part of the reason why this story touches us all so very, very deeply.
It was not just the terrible loss of life involved - the lives of three good men, Noel Spence, Emma's father and his sons, her brothers, Graham and Nevin. But this story also resonates because of the courage and love and heroism of all of them trying so desperately to save each other. The son, the father, then the other son, then the daughter and then finally the neighbours and friends. All piling in without thought for themselves, all thinking of the others first.
Emma herself almost lost her life.
She told the coroner at this week's inquest into her father and brothers' deaths that she knew going into the tank to try to save them was dangerous but added simply: "When it comes to the love of your family ... " Asked about her own health she made light of it: "I have a few pains but as my dad would say, it's far from my heart".
Her dad would surely be so very, very proud of his brave gutsy girl.
He and her lost brothers will never be far from her heart.