'Don't send us back to UK': Mining tragedy family's plea
KATIE Beesley won't let the tragic death of her husband, Nathaniel, in a mining accident in Tasmania be "in vain" by going to her former home in England.
But she has a major hurdle to overcome with the Immigration Department.
The family, who have two young boys, had been relying on Nathaniel's job to meet their visa requirements.
Nathaniel, or Nathan as he was known, was crushed to his death in the accident on March 17.
As Katie prepares to bury the love of her life on Friday, March 31, she has vowed to "not let his death be in vain" by staying in the country they have both grown to love.
And it's the warmth and support of the Sunshine Coast community that has helped her cope in her darkest hours.
She received the telephone call with the tragic news of her husband's death while in children's play centre Chipmunks in Birtinya.
A complete stranger, Sam Mackie, came to Katie's aid as she lay sobbing on the ground outside.
"She must work somewhere nearby and she heard me screaming and came out," Katie said.
"She sat with me and made me tea. She has been so wonderful.
Nathan was only working in the mine while waiting to be accepted in the Australian Defence Force.
The British Royal Marine who had served two tours in Afghanistan had been told in August he would be accepted and had been through two panel interviews and the family couldn't work out what was the cause of the delay.
Once Nathan was officially accepted, he would be made an Australian Citizen and the couple's visa concerns would be over.
But with no word coming through of when he would be placed, Nathan accepted a last minute request to help out a contracting firm on a mine site in Tasmania.
"He left on the Wednesday and said he would be home on Sunday," Katie said.
Katie, a qualified town planner, had taken youngest son Rex, 21 months, to Chipmunks while older son, Freddy, 4, was at kindy.
She had noticed a few missed calls and thought it was Nathan trying to get in touch.
"The message said something about Nathan and an accident," Katie said.
"I packed everything out and ran out of the play area. The guy just said 'Katie, there has been a significant accident in the mines. It's Nathan and I don't think he made it.'
Nathan had been abseiling in the mine site clearing rocks when the accident happened.
"He got to a ledge on the mine with a few other co-workers assessing what to do next when he heard a crack or a noise. That was that," Katie said.
"The others were able to get out the way. He was crushed on a ledge by 800 tonnes of rock."
Late on the Friday afternoon of the accident, a coroner advised Katie there was no way Nathan could have survived the rock fall and it was no longer a rescue operation, but a recovery one.
His body wouldn't be removed from the mine until the Monday and Katie spent a weekend without sleep.
She couldn't let go of the slimmest hope he might have been alive and the fear he was down there, hurt and alone.
"At best he was severely injured and no one was getting to him, at worst he was dead," she said.
She didn't know, initially, how to tell her boys daddy wouldn't be coming home.
But when a friend's daughter asked where "Daddy B" was, referring to Nathan, her eldest son ran off crying.
"I put him on my lap and said 'darling do you know what happened to daddy?'
"He looked away and I said 'darling, daddy's gone to heaven, you do know where heaven is'?
"Heaven is up in the stars, he didn't want to go and he won't be coming back."
The couple met when they were both 19 and Katie said "it really was love at first sight".
"He asked me for a cup of tea and I was just like 'wow, he is amazing'.
They were together for 14 years and were excited about making their new life in Australia.
Nathan was part of the British Royal Marines, but left with a plan to serve for the Australian Defence Force.
Katie had studied as a town planner and while it was her qualifications that got them into the country on a four-year visa, the plan was Nathan would fulfil the work requirements so she could look after the children.
"We wanted our boys to be outside in the sun, playing in the parks, camping and fishing and enjoying everything Australia can offer," she said.
"Nathan has given up his life trying to make this happen.
"Going back to the UK would be a bigger tragedy. But a big hurdle, is our residency status. We are hoping the department will understand.
"If he had listed, like he was supposed to have, they would have made him a citizen as you have to be citizen to serve.
"Now Nathan is gone, I'm a single parent and there is no way of meeting the visa criteria.
"I know we have got a lot to offer Australia.
"I don't want Nathan's death to be in vain, it is already dreadful and horrific.
"To be sent back to the UK knowing I have lost my husband would be heartbreaking.
Katie has made a whole lot of new friends since moving to the Sunshine Coast and joining mums' groups.
She has invited anyone who knew Nathan to come to his funeral at Caloundra's Gregson and Weight funeral home from 3pm on Friday, March 31.