Fears held for lost woman
TOOWOOMBA woman Michelle Black knows in her heart that her friend of 23 years Carmel Brookes is dead.
Ms Brookes, 60, was travelling from Langkawi, Malaysia, to Phuket, Thailand, on a yacht with her boyfriend Dr Gerry Goeden, a prominent marine biologist, when she went missing on the night of February 2.
According to Dr Goeden, Ms Brookes fell overboard in the middle of the night.
How Ms Brookes came to fall overboard in calm seas still remains unclear.
Ms Brookes has not been seen or heard from since.
A heartbroken Ms Black said there were too many questions from that night that remained unanswered.
"One of her greatest fears was falling overboard as she was not a very strong swimmer," Ms Black said.
"She was an experienced yachtswoman, but I would not say she was a professional.
"One thing that is still very odd is the fact that she was sailing the yacht in the middle of the night by herself," she said.
The pair first met in Jakarta, Indonesia, 23 years ago and have remained close friends ever since.
On a number of occasions over the course of their friendship, Ms Brookes travelled to Toowoomba to visit Ms Black and other friends she had in the Garden City.
Before embarking on the fateful trip, Ms Brookes spent a week in Toowoomba with Ms Black.
During this time, Ms Brookes told Ms Black of her "reservations" about the forthcoming trip.
"She was very fond of Toowoomba. She really loved it here," Ms Black said.
"After this length of time, I do not believe she is still alive.
"I held out for a long time, but too much time has passed now.
"I know in my heart she is dead.
"If she was alive she certainly would have tried to make contact with her family or friends," she said.
Thai authorities have called off the search for Ms Brookes.
Her body has yet to be located.