By Bonny Burrows
The family of the 27-year-old Gembrook woman who was tragically killed a single car accident just minutes away from home on 10 May have remembered the model as a free spirit with a heart of gold.
Erin Elphinstone was on her way home from “a really good day” in Melbourne when her black Suzuki sedan went down a steep embankment along Belgrave-Gembrook Road, Cockatoo, about 11pm.
Police had searched the area on Thursday 11 May but had initially failed to locate her vehicle because it was under thick bush.
She was found after a second search the next day.
Speaking from the family home on 16 May, almost a week after Erin’s death, Garry and Michelle Elphinstone described their daughter as “very spiritual” who lived life to the fullest and whose greatest fear was running out of time.
Her parents said she often spoke of the so-called 27 Club – a list of popular musicians, artists or actors that have died at age 27 – and had planned her funeral down to the finest of details.
She was independent, refused to settle down and wanted to do everything and anything.
She loved travelling, fashion, horses, motorbikes and skydiving.
She had no desire to marry or have children – she just wanted to live, her family said.
“Her spirit knew her time wouldn’t be long,” Mr Elphinstone said.
“She packed a lot in 27 years – you can’t begrudge her for that.”
On the day of her death, Erin had kissed her mother goodbye before heading into the city for the day as she had done so many times before.
She donated blood in the morning before sharing her lunch with a homeless man.
In the evening she had dinner with her best friend Hayley Swanson.
Her sister Suzie had spoken to Erin on the phone at about 4pm, unaware it would be the last time they would ever talk.
“She was really happy and said she had had a really good day,” Suzie said.
“And knowing what she did that morning, it speaks volumes to the person Erin was. She was so kind.”
Erin, a business and marketing student at Swinburne University, was renowned for putting others before herself.
She would often stop on the side of the road to rescue injured animals and would drop everything to “make you feel special”.
Younger sister Jennifer said she idolised her big sister.
“She always looked so beautiful and had such a great sense of style,” Jennifer said.
“Whenever she gave a compliment, it made me feel like a million dollars because I looked up to her so much.”
Mrs Elphinstone described losing her eldest daughter as like losing her best friend.
Their relationship was more a friendship than a typical mother-and-daughter relationship, she said.
“We used to sit down in the paddock and have many mother-daughter conversations. Not many mums get to share,” she said.
Mr Elphinstone said Erin would often joke to her mum that she should “try and be a mother instead of a sister”.
“They had a very special relationship.”
After Erin’s death, her father posted on Facebook “I’ll look for you at night when the Gembrook stars are out. I’ll love and miss you forever.”
Despite the tragedy, the close-knit family, which also includes brother Bradley, is determined to keep Erin’s memory burning bright.
Each day, they have decided to have ‘an Erin moment’ – a sharing of stories to reflect on her life.
They will also celebrate her birthday each year by “doing something crazy”, just as Erin had done.
Suzie and Jennifer will also keep another tradition alive.
“We always used to go up to Belgrave to see a movie. We had a pact that we’d go see the Marvel movies. We must continue that – she’d like that,” Jennifer said.
Erin will be farewelled at a public funeral in Berwick within the next week on a date yet to be set.