‘Inconsolable’: Family’s tribute to drowned boys
THE family of the two young boys tragically found dead in a river in Townsville this morning have remembered them as wonderful boys with "the most beautiful smiles".
Their aunty, Ros Eatts, said Barak Austral, 5, and Jhulio Sariago, 3, were playing in their yard before they went missing.
A huge search kicked off after the pair went missing about 5.30pm and police later issued an amber alert.
The brothers' bodies found in the Ross River this morning near Cranbrook Park, not far from their home.
"Everyone's in shock and total devastation," Ms Eatts said.
"I'm totally gutted - Leanne, the mum, is inconsolable."
"Little Jhulio was three years old - I used to call him little Dumbo, I used to tell him one day he could fly one day with his ears - now I think, 'fly with the angels'".
The boys are believed to have walked from the yard, down to the river.
"Leanne had said she had run down to the river there and she was standing right near the bricks there where the boys were found and she was screaming but she couldn't see them because it was a steep bank," Ms Eatts said.
"It's a highset home ... you can see out the kitchen and she (Leanne) looked outside the window and they were playing downstairs near the car in the back yard there. She said about half past five she went singing out for them and went downstairs and they were nowhere around - she could see them from where she was standing.
"As soon as she couldn't see them she ran straight down to the bridge which is a street away and she was just screaming and screaming.
Ms Eatts said the boys always had their mother with them near the river.
The boys' mother took to social media with a series of message, desperate for help to find her sons.
"I got 8 police cars at my house and everyone on foot looking for them please keep a close eye out for them on the streets near stock lands cranbrook and surrounding suburbs freaking rite out now," she wrote on Facebook.
Later, she wrote to thank those who were out searchiing for the boys.
"Still can't find them, we got police motorbikes and choppers out and 20 police units have set up on cranbrook park. I am so tired and empty," she wrote.
Police this morning said the bodies of the two boys had been found in the Ross River near Cranbrook Park just before 6am.
Townsville Police District Duty Officer Senior Sergeant Ian Wilkie this morning said police had received information the boys had been seen swimming in the area.
"Tragically, and terribly sad for the family, we have located both boys," he said.
"I imagine the people that came out (looking for the boys) would be upset at this news. There will be a lot of people feeling it this morning and our hearts and thoughts go out to the family. This wasn't news we hoped for."
About 100 people spent the night searching for the boys overnight after police issued an amber alert on Monday afternoon.
Hundreds of locals turned out to help search after the boys' relatives contacted police saying they had not returned home at the usual time.
"They were buying batteries at shops, (they were on) social media, people were wandering everywhere, helping out. We appreciate their efforts. We thank them for their efforts," Snr Sgt Wilkie said.
"Sadly in this case we won't be able to come to a happy conclusion. Our thoughts are with the family."
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the incident was devastating.
He praised locals for helping search after police issued an amber alert for the children.
"It's that Townsville strong spirit that we have. We band together, we look after one another, and this is where we stand strong together," he said.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.