Ross River tragedy: ‘Forever in mummy’s heart’
THE heartbroken parents of the young boys who drowned in the Ross River have paid tribute to the "little soldiers" who won't be separated, even in death.
Family, friends and the community gathered in Cranbrook Park yesterday, just metres from where the tiny bodies of Jhulio Sariago, 3, and Barak Austral, 5, were found early Tuesday morning.
The pair had been reported missing on Monday evening, sparking a mammoth search from authorities and the community that lasted into the night.
Yesterday more than 100 people filled the park to remember the boys and to gather for a traditional smoking ceremony. Friends, family and community members were invited to walk through the smoke as members of Wulgurukaba Walkabout Dancers performed.
Two crosses have been erected on the banks of the Ross River for both Jhulio and Barak, as well as a third cross for another indigenous boy who lost his life in the same spot about 30 years ago.
Family and community members were invited to place flowers in the Ross River. Mother Leeann Eatts was one of the first to do so, placing flowers nearby to where the boys were found, before being consoled by family.
Doves that had the names of the boys wrapped around their legs were also released.
Barak's father, Barak Austral, flew from Darwin to attend the ceremony.
He said it was easy to see the two were inseparable.
"I knew there was a very close bond between the boys that made me so proud," Mr Austral said.
"Their beaming beautiful faces will always be remembered forever. Blood always will be thicker than water. Not even death will separate our sons."
The family cried and members of the community watched on in sorrow as the young boys were remembered.
Nathan Sariago, the father of Jhulio and stepfather to Barak, also remembered the cheeky brothers.
"Daddy loves you and misses you every day. I'm lost without my little soldiers. I am devastated, I am broken, I am lonely without you," he said.
Mum Leeann was unable to speak and her words were read on her behalf by Florence Onus. She said they were "forever in mummy's heart".
A funeral for the boys is expected to be held in Darwin. A report is being prepared for the Coroner.
Police are seeking assistance to identify the movements of a red scooter in Cranbrook on February 25 as part of the report.