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Real Life

Luna Park tragedy 30 years on: I lost my whole family

**By Glen Williams On June 9, 1979, seven people died when a fire engulfed a ride at Sydney's Luna Park. We speak to Jennifer Poidevin, who lost her husband and two young sons — and is still searching for the truth.** Her gentle smile hides three decades of unspeakable grief. Tears have never been far from Jennifer Poidevin. Tragically, those tears were borne from a magic place many of us acquaint with laughter, fun and good times — Luna Park. Jennifer, her husband John and their two sons, Damien, 6, and Craig, 4, had spent the evening of June 9, 1979 — the final day of a well deserved holiday — at Coney Island. Jennifer, a young mum from Warren, NSW, had been dangerously sick much of the year, recovering from a brain haemorrhage that kept her hospitalised and separated from her family in Sydney for three months. "We made the most of that last day," Jennifer, now 56, recalls. "John and I wanted to give the kids the time of their lives. We spent the day at Taronga Zoo, then headed for Luna Park in the evening." As they emerged from Coney Island, Jennifer and John realised they had four tickets remaining — enough for one last ride. "We asked Damien and Craig what ride they'd like to go on again," she remembers. "They chose the Ghost Train. Little did I know... "For some reason, suddenly I felt like an ice-cream. I asked the others if they wanted one, but they said no. I asked them to wait for me, but when I turned around they were gone. "I don't know why they didn't wait for me, as we'd been on every ride together that night. It still haunts me to this day. Something spiritual took over. Divine intervention? For some reason, I was not meant to die that night." Jennifer recalls walking over to the Ghost Train and being confronted by "thick, heavy, smothering smoke". As she stood there, the whole building burst into flames. For the full story, see this week's Woman's Day — on sale June 1, 2009.

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