Newly-engaged mum gave everything to her 5 children
CHILDHOOD sweethearts were turning their family's life around after months of homelessness when Crystal Marr was killed on a Mackay road.
The young mother was struck by a car and died at the scene on Eimeo Rd in Mackay's Northern Beaches about 7.20pm Wednesday.
Four of her children were in a nearby car and witnessed the ordeal as bystanders and emergency services tried to save their 33-year-old mother.
A long-term family friend Stacey Atkinson said Ms Marr was a selfless, strong, fearless woman and a devoted protector of her family during tough circumstances.
Ms Marr, her fiancee Paul O'Donnell and their five children had been living out of one-room motels for months before the fatal crash, Mrs Atkinson said.
In March the family left their last home only to find an inhospitable pandemic rental market, Mrs Atkinson said.
"Since COVID-19 they have been living in motels for the last six months because of the rental market," Mrs Atkinson said.
"They've been doing it tough."
Even in the cramped motel rooms Ms Marr was able to create joy and happiness, Mrs Atkinson said.
"She made it a home," she said.
"She sacrificed everything for them.
"Her family were her world and vice versa."
Only days before her death, the 33-year-old announced her engagement on Facebook to her long-term partner Paul O'Donnell.
Mrs Atkinson said the young parents started as teenage lovebirds, meeting when Ms Marr was just 14, and having their first child when she was 16.
"She was born to be a mum," Mrs Atkinson said.
"She wasn't highly educated but she sat down and worked hard to home school the kids (during the lockdown).
"She wanted a better life for them than she ever had.
"She struggled, but she gave it her all."
Ms Marr was planning the next chapter of her life, finding her children a permanent home, replacing the family's Holden Commodore station wagon with a vehicle large enough to fit the whole family, and marrying her "childhood sweetheart", Ms Atkinson said.
"They wanted to get out and be in a home," she said.
"She was juggling looking for places, filing applications and looking after the five kids."
Without their mother, Mrs Atkinson said the family will need the support of the Mackay community.
"They need to be able to return to some stability and normalcy in their life," she said.
"They've been living out of suitcases and plastic containers.
"They need a roof over their heads."
Mrs Atkinson has set up a GoFundMe page for the family, seeking to raise $50,000 to help them find a home, a family friendly car and pay off the funeral costs.
Mackay churches and Mrs Atkinson's workplace have also started donating food and clothes to Mr O'Donnell and the children, she said.
"It takes a village to raise the children," she said.
To donate food or clothing contact Feros Care Mackay, and drop off donations at 74 Wood St, Mackay.
Or donate through Go Fund Me here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-crystal-marr