Family originally from Northbrook killed in New Zealand volcano eruption

ABC7 Eyewitness News Exclusive
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A family with ties to Chicago are among the victims of Monday's deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand.

The American Red Cross said 13-year-old Matthew Hollander and his brother, 16-year-old Berend Hollander, died in a hospital following the disaster. Their parents, 50-year-old Martin and 48-year-old Barbara Hollander remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead.

The family moved from north suburban Northbrook to Australia five years ago. Barbara was born in north suburban Skokie and Martin was from Sydney.

"When it came that they were the ones that were missing it was pretty much unbelievable," said former neighbor Craig Carlson. "They were a wonderful family, always helpful."

Craig and Carol Carlson lived across the street from the Hollanders in Northbrook. They said the family's move to Australia had always been part of their plan.

"He had family back there and it made sense to me, as a former school teacher, to do so while the boys were young," Carol Carlson said.

In a statement, Barbara's parents said, "We are together with our family grieving the loss of our loved ones. Our amazing daughter, Barbara Hollader and our son-in-law, Martin Hollander were a wonderful couple and parents to our grandsons. We appreciate all the support."

The sense of loss is raw in the tight-knit Northbrook neighborhood, which was brought together 11 years ago after a flood. Martin jumped in to help immediately.

"I mean buckets and buckets to try and get the water out of our basement," Carol recalled. "And I came up for something and there was Martin Hollander standing on our front hallway saying, 'What can I do, I am here, I want to help you.'"

Barbara Hollander's parents said there will be a celebration of her family's life in the Chicago area in the summer or fall of 2020.

"To see a young family like that so vibrant, and, I guess the blessing is they all went together because I understand the people that survived were severely burned," said Carol.

The GeoNet seismic monitoring agency said, calculating a 40% to 60% chance of another eruption within the next 24 hours on White Island.

Authorities in New Zealand said they had confirmed that six people died and that the bodies of eight other people are believed to remain on the ash covered island. Many of those who survived the volcanic blast suffered horrific burns. Officials said Thursday that two people who had been hospitalized had died. Another 28 people remain hospitalized, including 23 in critical condition

Many people were questioning why tourists were allowed to visit the island after seismic monitoring experts raised the volcano's alert level last month.

Daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit every year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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