Harrietville fires inquest | New life cruelly cut short

WHEN he died, Steven Kadar had been planning a new and more simple life.

“His partner, Leah (Edwards), has lost her whole future and will miss her beautiful Stevie forever,” his mother Jan Kadar told an inquest yesterday.

At one point holding her hand over her mouth to hold back her emotions, Mrs Kadar said she too would “miss Steven forever”.

“We have lost the company and support of a beloved child,” she said.

“The whole family is heartbroken to have lost Steven just when he was starting the happiest chapter of his life, with the love of his life, Leah.”

Mrs Kadar — supported in court by her husband, Peter, and other family members — started her evidence by describing herself as “an ordinary Australian mother”.

“This is the last place I expected to be,” she said.

“I can gain nothing from this as our son is gone and our lives have already been devastated.

“I am here hoping to spare another mother, another family the life of distress, loss and grief we are suffering.”

Mrs Kadar said she believed her son and Katie Peters would still be alive if those crews had been pulled out earlier.

An Australian Workers Union representative told how both families were still grieving the firefighters’ deaths.

“Our hearts go out to them and to their communities and their work colleagues, who to this day are still mourning these two tragic deaths,” union Victorian secretary Ben Davis said outside the Wodonga Coroner’s Court.

Mr Davis said it was hoped the court’s investigations could ultimately prevent such deaths happening again.

“It was a terrible incident, it led to two young lives being cut short and their families are seriously struggling,” he said.

Mr Davis said there were “a number of issues” to be canvassed, although he would not pre-empt the inquest by going into further detail.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think there were some questions that needed to be answered about the firefighting effort on the day, but also more broadly,” he said.

He said those questions centred on why the firefighters were where they were on that day.

“But that’s a matter for the coroner,” he said.

The Department of Primary Industries and Environment released a statement late yesterday to say it supported the inquest.