Her partner lying in a coffin in an Auckland funeral home, a young mother cradled her baby boy, rocking him back and forth, as he slipped towards death, "towards his dad".

"Don't be afraid. It's going to be all right," Olivia Kronfeld whispered as she smiled down at her 1-year-old son, who was wearing only a nappy in the dimly lit hospital room.

Four floors above, his 2-year-old sister started slowly regaining consciousness.

An unlikely love story ended in absolute tragedy on Tuesday.

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It was Olivia Kronfeld's 31st birthday; but it will forever be remembered as the day her long-term partner, Chris Tobin, crashed head-on into a double-decker bus on Mt Eden Rd, with their two youngest children in the back seat.

Tobin, 51, died at the scene. His baby boy, Jack, 1, succumbed to his injuries in his mother's arms at exactly 11.11am on Friday.

"Knowing that they're together, knowing that they will be together in the coffin, that's our blessing and we couldn't handle it any other way," said Chris' mother, Margaret Harrison, 73.

"Just knowing that neither one of them will be alone is.." Harrison couldn't finish her sentence and after a moment's silence she said she felt "hollow" with grief.

As Chris and Jack Tobin lie side-by-side in a Mt Eden funeral home, their family is struggling to make sense of the car crash that claimed their lives; struggling to understand how they're going to adjust to a world without them.

Elle is still in Starship Hospital, with multiple skull fractures and a broken arm.

Olivia Kronfeld cuddles her daughter, Elle Tobin, 2, the sole survivor of Tuesday's Mt Eden Rd car crash that claimed the lives of her father and baby brother. Photo / Supplied.
Olivia Kronfeld cuddles her daughter, Elle Tobin, 2, the sole survivor of Tuesday's Mt Eden Rd car crash that claimed the lives of her father and baby brother. Photo / Supplied.

Kronfeld is taking each moment as it comes, said her sister Grace Kronfeld. She is grateful for the love and support of friends and family who have allowed her "to be crazy, sad, mad and everything in between without judgment".

"It still feels pretty unreal, but we are just staying strong for Olivia," said Grace Kronfeld.

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While the family rallies around Olivia Kronfeld, she is busy trying to hold herself together for her two daughters.

No one knows how much Elle comprehends right now, but her big sister Vivienne, 5, is old enough to know her dad isn't coming home again.

On Thursday, Olivia Kronfeld dragged herself away from the hospital where her youngest children were fighting for their lives to hold her oldest daughter's hand as she said goodbye to her dad.

Kronfeld's mother, Fiona Keilman, drove to the funeral home while Kronfeld and Vivienne sat together in the back seat. Kronfeld quietly braided Vivienne's hair as she explained where they were going.

"She just said that we were going to see Papa - that's what Vivienne calls her dad - and that when we got there he was going to be like he's asleep," Keilman said.

Vivienne was holding a small green stone in her hand; a "treasure" to give to her dad. She placed it on her father's chest and said: "Mum, he's asleep."

Chris Tobin, 51, and his one-year-old son Jack both died in a car crash on Mt Eden Rd. Their joint funerals will be held on Tuesday. Photo / Supplied.
Chris Tobin, 51, and his one-year-old son Jack both died in a car crash on Mt Eden Rd. Their joint funerals will be held on Tuesday. Photo / Supplied.

"He's going to be asleep forever now," Olivia told Vivienne.

After they said goodbye to Tobin, Kronfeld returned to Starship Hospital and was told by doctors that her son, Jack, had suffered such severe injuries he would never be able to breathe on his own again.

She was torn between wanting to turn off the machines immediately to let her son be with his dad and wanting to keep him with her, in this world, for as long as possible.

Kronfeld gave herself the night to say goodbye to her curious and cheeky little boy. She held Jack for hours; breathing tubes and monitor wires were tangled in his blankets.

"She held him the whole way and talked to him and smiled at him and said it was all going to be all right," said Grace Kronfeld, who was in the hospital room with her sister and nephew. One of Olivia's friends sang Jack a protection karakea, or prayer, as he stopped breathing.

It was eight years ago that Olivia Kronfeld and Chris Tobin met.

He was in his early 40s, with two sons, and she was in her early 20s. Despite the significant age difference, family members say Kronfeld and Tobin gave each other a second chance at life.

Tobin, who had spent most of his life in Hamilton and was affectionately known as Tuffa, had moved up to Auckland after a previous long-term relationship ended. He was "devastated" and had lost touch with his family.

"After that relationship broke up, he didn't want anything to do with anybody," said his sister, Margie Tobin. "It was Olivia who reunited him with his family."

Chris Tobin, 51, with his daughter Vivienne, 5, on her first day of school. Chris Tobin died when the car he was driving crashed into a double decker bus on Mt Eden Rd on Tuesday. Photo / Supplied.
Chris Tobin, 51, with his daughter Vivienne, 5, on her first day of school. Chris Tobin died when the car he was driving crashed into a double decker bus on Mt Eden Rd on Tuesday. Photo / Supplied.

To Chris Tobin's family, Kronfeld gave him a reason for being after a dark period in his life. To Kronfeld's family, Tobin did just the same, helping pull her out of "a rut".

"Just as much as she helped him get a second chance, he helped her," said Grace Kronfeld.

Kronfeld and Tobin were creative, articulate and passionate "about everything". They loved their life; they loved their children.

The couple and their three kids lived together in a self-contained unit beneath Kronfeld's mum's house in Mt Eden. One-year-old Jack used to love climbing over the furniture and getting into talcum powder fights with his sisters.

On Tuesday, Tobin decided to take the day off work to celebrate Kronfeld's birthday. He cooked her breakfast in the morning with the kids and they spent the afternoon hanging around home together.

About 3pm, Tobin was asked to drop Kronfeld's father back to work at a construction site in the city centre.

Elle decided she wanted to go for a drive with her dad. Tobin buckled her into her carseat and Jack, who had just learned how to walk, toddled out towards the car. As Tobin buckled Jack in, the family's huntaway dog Fox came running out and jumped in the back seat, too.

With a full car, Tobin headed into the city.

Chris Tobin, 51, and his son, Jack, 1, both died after a car crash on Mt Eden Rd on Tuesday. Photo / Supplied.
Chris Tobin, 51, and his son, Jack, 1, both died after a car crash on Mt Eden Rd on Tuesday. Photo / Supplied.

Somehow on the way home he lost control of the white Nissan Cube carrying his two children and dog. They crossed the median strip on Mt Eden Rd and crashed headfirst into an oncoming double-decker bus.

"Nothing has been clarified about why or how he crashed," said Grace Kronfeld. Previous media reports suggested Chris may have suffered a medical event moments before the crash, but the family said the coroner and police have not confirmed this.

Witnesses heard Chris groaning inside the car shortly after the crash, but he died at the scene. His children were carried to an ambulance, limp with critical injuries. Fox fled.

About 6pm, police officers knocked on Kronfeld's door to tell her Tobin was dead and her two youngest children were in hospital.

Over the next few days, Kronfeld and her family and friends divided their time between saying goodbye to Tobin at the funeral home, holding Jack in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and supporting Elle in her recovery and Vivienne in her grief.

Kronfeld "didn't want any child left by themselves, ever", said sister Grace Kronfeld. On the last night of Jack's life, family members made the short journey back and forth between his room and Elle's room repeatedly.

Jack Tobin, 1, died in hospital after suffering severe injuries in a car crash on Mt Eden Rd. His father, Chris Tobin, was driving the car and died at the scene. Photo / Supplied.
Jack Tobin, 1, died in hospital after suffering severe injuries in a car crash on Mt Eden Rd. His father, Chris Tobin, was driving the car and died at the scene. Photo / Supplied.

Now Olivia Kronfeld is focusing on Elle's recovery and planning Tobin and Jack's funerals.

Amid all the grief and horror of the past five days, the family did not have time to search for Fox, lost since the crash. But yesterday, the SPCA returned the beloved huntaway home, with bruising and a cut paw.

The Serious Crash Unit is continuing its investigation into the fatal Mt Eden Rd crash.

Police are calling for witnesses to come forward, particularly the driver of a blue BMW who was behind Tobin before the crash.

A Givealittle page has been set up by Tobin's friends to support Kronfeld, Vivienne and Elle. As of Saturday evening, more than 500 people had donated almost $24,000 to the family. Kronfeld is reading every message on the page, often through tears, her family said.

Tobin and Jack's joint funeral will be held at 2pm on Tuesday at the Manukau Memorial Gardens. They will rest in one coffin, together.

"Hold your loved ones a little bit closer tonight. Do it for Chris," said his mother, Margaret Harrison.

The family of Chris Tobin and Olivia Kronfeld would like to thank the following: Starship Hospital, the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and the doctors and nurses on Ward 26A for their help with Jack and Elle, the SPCA for returning Fox, Ronald McDonald House, Auckland Transport Bus Company, the driver of the bus Tobin crashed into (whom they hope to meet one day), the first responders on the scene, ACC, Jetstar, Air New Zealand, their family and friends and all the well-wishers.