Thursday, May 30, 2024

Lithgow turns blue for heroic policewoman

The family of Senior Constable Kelly Foster, who died while coming to the aid of a friend while canyoning near Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains, has released a statement thanking the community for the outpouring of sympathy since the tragic passing of “our Kelly”.

The 39-year-old senior constable died while trying to rescue her friend, 24-year-old Chinese student, Jennifer Qi when the two were part of a canyoning tour group on the Wollangambe River on January 2.

Witnesses say Jennifer Qi was tipped off an inflatable Lilo into a whirlpool and that Senior Constable Foster was swept in to the swirling water as she attempted to rescue her.

Snr Const Foster was farewelled in Lithgow yesterday, with the town turning out to line its Main Street in blue balloons to honour the memory of the much-loved policewoman.

A valedictory speech was delivered by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, who announced Senior Constable Foster had been posthumously awarded the Commissioners Valour Award for her “heroism, exceptional bravery and sacrifice”.

He also confirmed the awarding of the National Police Service Medal, the National Medal, the NSW Police Medal and a Commissioner’s Unit Citation in recognition of her involvement in the response to Sydney’s 2014 Lindt Cafe Siege.

“Kelly’s gentle nature, enthusiasm and commitment to her policing duties was treasured by her work colleagues and the community whom she so tirelessly served,” Commissioner Fuller said.

“She was very much a shining example of an officer who truly upheld our policing traditions of professionalism, commitment, honour and courage.

“It was these exact traits that Senior Constable Foster will be forever remembered; when she selflessly put herself in danger to rescue and save another. Where, without hesitation, she valiantly went to the rescue of a companion despite the peril that was to overcome them both.

“Her heroism, exceptional bravery and sacrifice is beyond question and today it is my honour to posthumously confer upon her the Commissioner’s Valour Award.

“Senior Constable Foster is also awarded the National Police Service Medal, the National Medal, the NSW Police Medal and a Commissioner’s Unit Citation in recognition of her involvement in the response to the Lindt Cafe Siege.

“These Australian and State honours recognise her diligent and ethical service in protecting our community.

“It is with profound sorrow that I, on behalf of the New South Wales Police Force extend to Kelly’s partner Gavin, her mother and father Marilyn and Terry, sister Leigh and brother David and Kelly’s extended family, our deepest personal sympathy in the tragic unexpected loss of an admired woman and an outstanding police officer.

“Finally, Kelly may you go gently from this place knowing that in every way you were a dedicated and professional police officer, above all, true to your solemn Oath of Office right to the very end.

“May you rest in peace.”

Snr Const Foster’s family released a public statement yesterday afternoon, describing her as a proud, dedicated and selfless officer.

Here is the statement in full:

“We would like to thank the community for the outpouring of sympathy since the tragic passing of our Kelly.

Not only was Kelly a proud and dedicated police officer, she was a loving sister, daughter, partner and friend.

She was one of a kind; tough when she needed to be, but selfless, always supporting the people around her.

This was true throughout her life, from her earliest role as a protective big sister, to her early career as a teacher, and later as a police officer.

She overcame the challenges in her life with grit and resilience and did so with a smile that lit up her whole face – and every room she entered, a sparkle in her eye and a laugh that was infectious.

When she moved to Katoomba in 2017, Kelly had found her paradise in the Blue Mountains; there were endless adventures at her doorstep. As an avid bushwalker, she loved the outdoors and her new home was to be her base for exploration.

It was a mutual love of the outdoors that brought both Kelly and Jenni to be on the Wollangambe trip together that day.

Jennifer Qi was an international student, studying Computer Science at the University of Sydney, she graduated with First Class Honors. Jenni was working as a Software Engineer and had called Australia home for a number of years.

Jenni loved the outdoors, camping and rock climbing regularly. She had even bought herself a Jeep to do the off-road driving needed to get to the places she wanted to reach! She had made plans with friends to do a free diving course and travel the Australian desert.

Our hearts go out to Jenni’s family and friends who are also grieving at this time. We will remain forever connected by this tragedy and our shared grief.

We would like to thank all of the emergency services personnel who helped with Kelly and Jenni’s rescue. The NSW Ambulance paramedics, RFS, Police, Police Rescue, Police Divers and those that helped to feed and care for the team.

Those two days were the hardest of our lives, but our pain was made that bit more bearable by the love, generosity, support and care of the first responders. We will be forever grateful for their kindness and their commitment to bringing Kelly and Jenni home.

We would like to thank the NSW Police Force for the care they have provided Kelly and the support they have provided our family, particularly the Chifley Police District. We would also like to thank the Police Association of NSW for their support.

To the broader community, we have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, support and kind words. Thank you.

It is humbling to know the impact that Kelly made on people we have not yet met.

In lieu of flowers, we would encourage those who wish to show their support to do so by way of donation to Police Legacy.

The Foster Family.”

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