Tragedy as three children die
THE deaths of three children within days have left three Central Highlands families mired in grief.
Three-year-old Ruby Yan Chen, of Blackwater, was flown to Rockhampton on Thursday night after being sick with influenza for about a week.
She died unexpectedly due to complications on Friday morning.
With her fourth birthday just weeks away, Ruby's parents Xinshun Huang (Cindy) and Chuan (Charlie) and their son Tian Cheng (Benson), are dealing with Ruby's death alone as they have no family in Australia.
Cindy's friend Melissa Barnes said Blackwater residents would be familiar with Ruby, who would often be seen at the Chinese takeaway store her parents had owned since they moved to Blackwater in 2007.
"She was a very happy girl, always wanting cuddles from her mother," Mrs Barnes said.
"Ruby was an always smiling little girl who was very full of life and energy.
"Many people in the Blackwater community would have seen her ride up and down the footpath in front of their shop with her big smile and cheeky happy giggle."
An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of Ruby's death.
On Sunday night, another young life was lost from the Blackwater community after three-year-old Lucas Swaffield stopped breathing while travelling in a car with his family.
He was flown to Rockhampton Base Hospital, but could not be revived.
Lucas, affectionately known as Luky, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age and had since become well supported in the Blackwater community as his family fundraised for his medical expenses.
In a third tragedy, a five-year-old Emerald boy was flown to the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
The St Patrick's school Prep student died on Saturday morning. No further details are known.
In a separate incident, the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue service transported an infant from Blackwater to Rockhampton with a suspected infection on Sunday.
The eight-week-old boy had been taken to Blackwater hospital with high temperatures.
The infant is in a serious but stable condition.
There were 123 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Central Queensland in the week ending August 12, 2012, compared with a pre-flu season average of one case per week from January to early May this year.