Brain damaged and barely able to breathe, Marika Ninness fought death for three days after doctors withdrew her life support.
“Her sister and I held her hand until 5.30pm Saturday,” Dave Blackie, the father of her three children, said. “She was peaceful.”
About 10pm that night a 30-year-old Dunbogan man, alleged to have knocked the Ashtonfield woman to the ground on December 7 in the Green Hills shopping centre car park, was arrested at his home and charged with murder at Port Macquarie police station.
Tributes have flowed for Ms Ninness, who went to school in Raymond Terrace.
“She was wildly good fun, had a wicked sense of humour and was a brave spirit,” her sister Charnie Braz said. “People were drawn to her and that could have had something to do with the fact she was stunning.”
More than 40 people said goodbye to Ms Ninness on Tuesday night before the machines were switched off Wednesday morning. The vigil continued for 80 hours, until she died.
“She was comfortable and in no pain,” Mr Blackie, her estranged husband, said. “She only had primitive brain function like breathing.”
Together the pair had three children and were married nearly four years ago.
Having met in high school they moved out of home aged 19 and had their first son Jackson, now 15.
Their second son is Cameron, 13, and their third child, a daughter, is three.
“We had to wait ’til we were financially secure to have Sienna but she got a daughter, just as she wanted,” he said. “She was a perfect mother and they couldn’t have asked for any better.”
Ms Ninness worked at Newcastle Family Dental as a dental assistant before progressing to marketing and promotions.
Mr Blackie said his wife was a keen water skier and aspired to breed Australian bulldogs – interests that came second to parenting.
“She made sure the children always came first,” Mr Blackie said. “We never had a lot of money but we made sure they would get a decent education.”
The dedicated mum wished to keep giving after her death.
“She wanted to donate her organs so we were trying to do that,” Mr Blackie said. “Because she hung on so long she couldn’t fulfil that wish. Her organs were starved of oxygen so they’re too damaged to donate.”
Mrs Braz said the support from John Hunter Hospital staff was overwhelming at a devastating time.
“The doctors did their best to save her and we couldn’t have asked for better care,” she said. “They don’t make them like Marika – a light has gone out in the world.”
Marika is also survived by her father, Bob.
“If there’s any consolation perhaps mum [who died three years ago] and Marika are together again now,” Mrs Braz said.
Close friend Karleen Jones has started a collection that has already raised $3000 for the children’s education. Donations can be made at Emelle Hair Salon in Elgin Street Maitland.