Family mourning a selfless mother

KIM Stoker lived to help others.

She was described by her younger sister, Heidi Stoker, as a selfless woman with a heart of gold who treasured her family.

She said the mother of four always put everyone else’s needs before her own.

‘‘She never asked for anything in return,’’ Heidi Stoker said.

‘‘She would take the shirt off her own back before letting someone else go without.’’

Kim Stoker, 42, had driven to Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley on Saturday night to pick up her cousin’s two daughters, aged nine and seven, for a sleepover. Her 13-year-old daughter was with her.

‘‘She said she missed the girls and asked could she come and get them for a visit,’’ Heidi Stoker said.

The group was driving back to Ms Stoker’s Greta home in a  hatchback when the car collided with a sedan   on a straight stretch of road near Tatler Wines  at about 7.15pm.

The other car was driven by a 25-year-old Raymond Terrace woman, who had her five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son in the back seat.

Heidi Stoker said her family were astonished at the bravery of her  13-year-old niece, who pulled her two friends out of the car and used her mother’s phone to call her father and the police.

Ms Stoker died from her  injuries in the ambulance on the way to John Hunter Hospital.

Personnel from Cessnock District Rescue Squad used hydraulic cutters and spreaders to cut the driver’s side of the sedan away and remove the Raymond Terrace woman.

She was taken by ambulance to Cessnock Airport, where she was transferred by Hunter Westpac rescue helicopter to John Hunter Hospital with limb injuries along with possible head, internal and spinal injuries.

The five children  were treated on the roadside before they were also taken to John Hunter Hospital. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Ms Stoker’s daughter was still in hospital last night.

Ms Stoker’s family and friends remembered her yesterday as a generous woman who could never stay angry at anyone.

‘‘She was also so outgoing, would speak her mind to no end, loud, and you could hear her coming from a mile away,’’ Heidi Stoker said.

She said her sister had been the glue that held her family together through recent challenges.

Ms Stoker and her partner of 19 years, Mark O’Neil, had lost their fourth child, a son, as a baby about 10 years ago.

Their 13-year-old daughter had a severe spinal condition that required regular appointments with specialists.

Mr O’Neil had become legally blind and stayed some of the week with his carer and Ms Stoker’s widowed mother Debbie, in Cessnock.

Ms Stoker visited every day.

‘‘She’d spend her last five dollars putting petrol in the car to come in and check on mum,’’ Heidi Stoker said.

Mandy Perkins lived next door to the couple and their children for about 12 years  and spoke fondly of the couple, saying they were due to marry in September.

 Police attached to the Newcastle Crash Investigation Unit examined the scene,  which is less than seven kilometres from Ms Stoker’s home. 

Inquiries are continuing.

VIOLENT END: A highway patrol and crash investigator inspects a car at the scene. Picture: Peter Stoop

VIOLENT END: A highway patrol and crash investigator inspects a car at the scene. Picture: Peter Stoop