‘She’d light up everyone’s life’
THE woman feared dead in a plane crash off the Gold Coast is being remembered as a "loving mum" who lit up a room.
Police yesterday said they found a woman's body on the southern part of Main Beach on North Stradbroke Island.
Search crews believe the body is of Gold Coast woman Trista Applebee, 31.
Ms Applebee went missing after the vintage Yak-52 aircraft in which she was a passenger failed to return from a joyflight on Wednesday morning.
She and pilot Marcel van Hattem, 52, were planning to go for a 30-minute scenic flight to celebrate Ms Applebee's birthday, but the alarm was raised that afternoon after the plane had not returned to Southport Flying Club at Coombabah for several hours.
The body of Mr van Hattem was recovered from wreckage pulled from the bottom of the ocean off the coast of South Stradbroke Island on Thursday.
He has been remembered by friends as a "wonderful, kind man" and a well-respected member of the Southport Flying Club.
Ms Applebee's former workmates were yesterday struggling to come to terms with the news.
She worked full time in the garden section of Masters Home Improvement at Nerang some years ago.
Remembering the time he worked with her, former department head Troy Withers told the Bulletin Ms Applebee "loved life".
"She'd walk into the store - she'd come bouncing in - and everyone would smile, she was a pretty little thing from the country and she'd light up everyone's life," he said.
Mr Withers fondly recalled Ms Applebee's favourite prank at work - stealing the store microphone.
"She wasn't supposed to use it but she would anyway. She'd put on a hardcore bogan voice and start talking into it, we'd all yell 'No Trista' and she'd laugh," he said.
"She was so, so cheeky."
But while she enjoyed a laugh, it was her compassion for others that really stuck with people.
"She had so much empathy for everyone and everything, it was unbelievable," Mr Withers said.
"She would cry if she saw someone else crying. She'd laugh if someone else was. It was delightful.
"All she wanted to do was make everyone happy, that was her sole goal."
Aranda Ferrige worked with Ms Applebee between 2011 and 2013 and said the pair were very close.
Last night she was holding out hope for a "miracle" to bring her friend back safe and well.
"It just breaks my heart to hear this happen," she said.
"She was such an energising young girl, she was loud, willing to please and had the most beautiful infectious smile.
"She was a breath of fresh air."
Ms Applebee was also remembered as a loving mother whose 11-year-old daughter was the centre of her universe.
Search crews have spent two full days conducting an extensive air and sea investigation after debris from the plane began washing up on South Stradbroke Island on Wednesday night.
Crews have employed specialised underwater sonar equipment to help search for the aircraft.
Police will now be preparing a report for the Coroner.