Police at the scene.
Police at the scene.

Family mourns as siblings’ bodies found just metres apart

DETECTIVES are working to piece together how Barak Austral, 5, and his brother Jhulio Sariago, 3, left their Cranbrook home on Monday afternoon and ended up submerged in the Ross River.

Police said the little boys were playing in the yard of their highset Brett St home when they walked out, barefoot and sparsely clothed, between 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

Security cameras on a house at the corner of Brett St and Kirrang St captured the boys walking towards the Ross River.

Townsville Police Child Protection Investigation Unit officer-in-charge Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Miles said the boys were known to frequent the river, playing with other local children.

"We know from our investigations that a number of people have seen them throughout the course of the afternoon, members of the community who were in their normal afternoon activities and engaging in their normal activities in their yard," he said.

The boys were reported missing to police about 6.30pm after a search by family members failed to locate them.

Before 9.30pm police issued a plea to residents living along Riverway Drive and Rosslea Golf Course to check their yards for Barak and Jhulio.

Two hours later an Amber Alert was issued seeking urgent public assistance to help find the boys, who were feared to be at "significant risk". This sparked a mammoth search operation involving more than a hundred residents, volunteers and police officers.

Flood boats and water police searched the banks of the river while the emergency helicopter took to the skies.

Tragically the boys were located between 4.40am and 6am within 2m of each other, submerged in a small cutaway on the Ross River that had become steeper, deeper and filled with vegetation since the floods.

The spot where the boys were found is just 300m from where they live.

"(The parents are) devastated as you would expect and we've put support services in place and will be speaking with them further throughout the day," Det Snr Sgt Miles said.

He said police would speak to witnesses and residents in the area to prepare a report for the coroner.

 

TIMELINE

 

  • Between 5.30pm and 6.30pm: Barak Austral, 5, and Jhulio Sariago, 3, walk out of their Brett St home in Cranbrook. A neighbour's security camera spots them walking toward the Ross River together.
  • 6.30pm: The boys are reported missing to police.
  • 9.25pm: Queensland Police issue first alert about the missing boys, asking residents living along Riverway Dr and near the Rosslea Golf Course to check their yards.
  • 11.30pm: Amber Alert is issued by Queensland Police, seeking urgent help to look for the boys now deemed to be at "significant risk". Residents and volunteers join the search, swelling numbers to more than a hundred.
  • Between 4.40am and 6am: Police find Barak and Jhulio within metres of each other submerged in a cutaway of the Ross River.