‘I kept begging them to tell me that it wasn’t true’
Greg and Debra Ireland had been out to dinner on the evening of Saturday, August 22.
Their elder daughter Maddie was staying at a friend's house and their younger, Chelsea, 19, was on a trip to the southeast with her long-term boyfriend Lukasz Klosowski.
At about midnight, there was a knock at the door of their Semaphore South home.
Two police officers informed Mr and Mrs Ireland, 57 and 55, that there had been an incident near Millicent and it was being investigated.
At that point little detail was known. It wasn't until a few hours later that the officers returned with devastating news.
Chelsea and Lukasz had been shot dead in an alleged double murder at 11.30pm.
Lukasz' father Pawel Klosowski, 46, of Mount McIntyre - near Kalangadoo and Millicent - was later charged with the couple's murder.
"I just couldn't believe it," Mrs Ireland said.
"I just wanted them to tell me that it wasn't true. I kept begging them to tell me that it wasn't true."
While Lukasz was like a member their family and is also deeply mourned by the Irelands, the family said Chelsea had only met Pawel Klosowski four times - twice in Adelaide, when he took the couple out for dinner, and then two times in Mount Gambier.
"I just keep wishing I could have said to her don't go but she was 19, she had travelled Europe on her own … she was street-smart, independent, strong-willed - there was no way I could have held her home, but I just wish I could have," Mrs Ireland said.
Chelsea and Lukasz left for the southeast the morning before the tragedy.
"I went in and kissed her goodbye and said …'be careful on that road' and she said 'oh, what do you think Lukasz is going to do? He's not stupid'," Mrs Ireland said.
Mr Ireland made sure he and Chelsea observed tradition before she left as well.
"From an early age, I've always said to the girls 'dads always need hugs' so I go up, give them a hug and tell them I love them … so I did that with Chelsea before we jumped in the car to (drop her off)," he said.
"The girls know we love them - we've always told them."
The last interaction Maddie had with her sister was about a double rainbow. Maddie spotted one on Friday morning and, forgetting Chelsea was away, messaged her to ask if she'd also seen it.
Mrs Ireland said the family was still in disbelief about what had happened to their precious daughter and her cheeky boyfriend.
"You see (tragedies) in the paper and you feel for the parents and you think 'how awful' and 'how could anything like that happen' but, you know, you turn the page and you move on - But we can't. This is us," she said.
But through their sadness, the family smiles and laughs as they remember the wonderful times they had with Chelsea.
"She was just the most selfless, patient, kind person I've ever met," Maddie said.
"She wanted the future to be greener and more sustainable."
Mr Ireland agreed, saying her morale compass was always pointing the right way.
"Everything she did was because it was right," she said.
Born at Western Hospital in Henley Beach on September 27, 2000, Chelsea was not waiting for anyone.
"We just got there (in time) and she came in a hurry, and that was basically her for the rest of her life," Mrs Ireland said.
During her time at kindergarten, a teacher told the Irelands their daughter "marches to the beat of her own drum".
At West Lakes Shore Primary School, Chelsea was, at first, a shy student, who carried around a black and white stuffed dog called Bella.
The school initially provided her with extra assistance to improve her literacy skills, but it wasn't long before teachers recognised something special in Chelsea and offered her a place in their Students with High Intellectual Potential program.
"I think there's two types of smart, where some people just naturally get it both other people have the drive and determination, like they know what they want and they just stick to it and do it and I think Chels was that," Maddie said.
Chelsea's determination and persistence at St Mary's College resulted in her being accepted into a mechanical engineering degree at Adelaide University.
"My interest in (the sustainability and humanitarian side of engineering) stems from a childhood spent in nature and along Australian beaches, as well as an immersive school trip where I visited an Indigenous community on the outskirts of The Great Victoria Desert, Oak Valley," Chelsea said in an introductory piece written as part of her course.
"Through this I have developed a great appreciation for out natural world as well as a desire to help improve not only the environment, but also the quality of life for those living in remote communities or in developing countries."
The Irelands thanked their family, friends and the community for their outpouring of support.
St Mary's College will be holding a memorial for Chelsea next week.*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as One last hug goodbye for their darling girl