EXCLUSIVE: Tragic last portrait of Home and Away star and her family smiling together on Christmas Day – before the car crash that killed the parents and left both daughters fighting for life
On Christmas Day, former actress Jessica Falkholt posed next to her parents and younger sister for a family portrait.
But less than 24 hours after the loving picture, their family had been destroyed, with a horror Boxing Day car crash killing parents Lars, 69, and Viv, 60, and leaving sisters Jessica and Annabelle fighting for life.
Jessica, 28, and Annabelle, 21, were pulled from the fiery wreck by heroic witnesses after the tragic head-on collision at Mondayong, on the NSW south coast, on Boxing Day morning.
Relatives of the Falkholts told Daily Mail Australia they spent Christmas Day together with other family at Ulladulla and had sent well-wishing text messages to loved ones.
Alongside the text messages the family-of-four sent a photo of them smiling happily arm-in-arm in front of grape vines – unaware it would be their last together.
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A devastated relative of the family revealed she received a text message from Vivian on Christmas Day and said the Falkholts were in good spirits.
‘Vivian texted me saying: “We‘re having a great day, hope you are too”,‘ their relative said.
‘I replied saying, “When are you guys coming back?” and she said they were coming back tomorrow (Boxing Day).‘
Jessica – known for playing ‘Hope Morrison‘ on Home and Away – underwent surgery at St George Hospital on Thursday and is currently in a critical condition and remains in a coma.
‘Jessica just came out of a major operation and that went well,‘ the relative said.
‘The quick update is that it went better than expected. They were doing work to her arm and internal injuries, they were the main parts.‘
The relative said there had been no update to the condition of Annabelle, a childcare worker, who is also still in a coma at Liverpool Hospital.
Family members are spending time by the bedsides of both girls, neither of who are aware their parents are dead.
Relatives of Mr Falkholt are currently travelling to Australia from Sweden, while Mrs Falkholt‘s family is mostly based in Sydney.
‘We‘re a big Italian and Swedish family so all of us are sticking together and going between the two,‘ a cousin of the girls told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We don‘t get many updates we just get to be with them. ICU (staff) are amazing but they have jobs to do and we‘d rather they look after the girls then worry about us.‘
The driver of the other vehicle, a Toyota Prado 4WD, was a known drug user and had been jailed for driving offences.
Craig Anthony Whitall, who also died in the horrific crash, was previously jailed for driving while disqualified and driving on P-plates, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Mr Whitall was reportedly driving home from a methadone clinic at the time of the tragic accident.
Witness told police they saw Mr Whitall‘s white Toyota Prado cross the centre line of the road twice before it crashed head-on into the Falkholt‘s Mazda.
Mr Whitall had been charged with more than 60 offences by police before his death.
Sources told the Daily Telegraph Mr Whitall was ‘well known‘ to police in Ulladulla and had a criminal history of more than 60 offences.
The coronial investigation into the crash will focus on whether Mr Whitall was under the influence of drugs during the crash.
His son Shane took to Facebook to pay an emotional tribute to his father.
‘I love you with all my heart dad and will forever miss you,‘ Shane wrote.
‘You were my hero I don‘t give a f**k what anyone says you showed me a lot in my life more than you‘ll ever know.
‘It‘s such a tragedy to lose you I love you Dad RIP,‘ the post read.
Mr Whitall was driving home to Ulladulla from a Nowra methadone clinic on Boxing Day.
Methadone is prescribed to heroin addicts as they attempt to wean themselves off the drug.
It isn‘t illegal for a driver to have methadone in their system but they can be charged if it is proven any substance impaired their ability to control a vehicle safely.
Mr Whitall‘s family also released a statement saying that their ‘hearts were broken‘ after his death.
‘Not only for our loss but also for the loss the Falkholt family are feeling.‘
Craig Anthony Whitall went by aliases including Craig Andrew Whitall and Jamie Robert Wilson.
He was jailed for six months after pleading guilty to driving while disqualified in 2011.