Heartbroken husband speaks over wife's sudden death
STAN Qualischefski is a heartbroken man.
Days after the death of his wife Laureen early on Monday, the 72-year-old is still asking himself if he had changed just one moment of time, would things be different.
Mr Qualischefski broke his silence on the final moments he saw his wife of 51 years alive about 2.30am on Monday.
The couple drove from their Wilsonton home about 2.05am that day, following the same routine they'd had for the past 10 years working as bread packers at several city supermarkets.
They got to work about 2.20am. Mrs Qualischefski, 69, had a cigarette at the nearby bus shelter then started her shift soon after.
Minutes later she got into a misunderstanding with another worker and walked out of the store, Mr Qualischefski believes, to calm down.
"I wasn't too concerned at all. I thought she'd be sitting at the bus shelter about three metres away," he recalled.
"The reason I wasn't too concerned is she's had disagreements with (the worker) before and she's walked out the store. She just wanted to get away from (them)."
When Mrs Qualischefski wasn't outside when he finished at the store about 3.20am, he grew concerned.
He searched the carpark and nearby streets but couldn't find any sign of her and assumed she had caught a taxi home to Wilsonton.
"She's never walked from there (Stenner St). That was our first store - we had five more to do."
Rushing through work at the other shops, he went home to check on her but when she wasn't at their Bridge St flat, he turned to police about 9.30am.
"The only thing I could do was go home, thinking where could she be," he said.
"It was about 10, maybe half-past 10 and I saw two detectives walking down the driveway and I thought, 'it can't be'.
"The rest is history."
A cruel loop of 'what if' questions is left replaying in Mr Qualischefski's mind as he comes to grips with his tragic loss.
"I should have went and intervened. I should have told her to go into the lunch room until (the worker) left.
"When she walked out the store, I should have walked after her and made sure she was sitting in the car.
"I know that's easy to say that now."
His beloved wife will be farewelled in a private funeral at a date yet to be determined as the investigation into her death continues.
Authorities are yet to rule on how she died but suspect a medical episode could have contributed to her falling into the water.
Mr Qualischefski said early examinations had found signs of heart disease - something his wife had kept "very secret".
The pair married in Toowoomba on March 29, 1966, and enjoyed more than 51 years together including living in Melbourne for 15 years.
They'd planned to catch the train from Adelaide to Darwin next year.
Mr Qualischefski doesn't know if he'll still take the trip now.
"I know you can't change things now, I know you can't. All I keep saying to myself is it shouldn't have happened."