Police on the scene where a child was pulled from the Ross River at Rossiter Park. Picture: Evan Morgan
Police on the scene where a child was pulled from the Ross River at Rossiter Park. Picture: Evan Morgan

Twin sisters likely fell into water before drowning death

A YOUNG girl who drowned in the Ross River was playing with her twin sister close to its banks when it's believed the pair fell in the water.

The Aitkenvale State School student had been in Rossiter Park with siblings and friends when tragedy struck, marking the third drowning death in the river this year.

Townsville Child Protection Investigation Unit officer-in-charge detective Senior Sergeant Dave Miles said it appeared the pair may have been playing too close to the edge of the river, and had possibly fallen, but investigations were ongoing.

"We now know at this stage that neither of those girls were apt at swimming and as a result, members of the public and family went into the water to assist them," Sen-Sgt Miles said.

"One child was able to be removed from the water, sadly a second child went under the water and was unable to be located for approximately another 30 minutes."

The alarm was raised about a minute after the girl entered the water by a group of people who had been in the park.

The nine-year-old, of Congolese background, was pulled out of the water and rushed to hospital just before 5.30pm, but died shortly after.

"It's extremely tragic circumstances," Sen-Sgt Miles said. "We have a situation here where there are a large number of people present. There was nothing untoward happening, it was innocent play that's taken a tragic set of circumstances."

The girls, from Aitkenvale, were known to frequent the park.

The Townsville Bulletin has been told the family was well known in the Congolese community but had been in Townsville for less than a year.

Detectives are working to notify the girl's father, who does not live in Australia.

Older siblings were at the park with the young girl, but no adults. Sen-Sgt Miles ruled out any charges over the incident. He dismissed the need to erect signage or barriers along the Ross River to prevent any further deaths, amid a spate of drownings.

"The Ross River is used for a wide variety of recreational uses … it would be almost impossible to mitigate against every possibility of people going into the water," he said.