A sickening wait for three boys to rise from darkness
It was the most sickening, traumatic moment any journalist could ever live through – waiting for three little boys, in the depths of a cold, black dam, to rise from the darkness.
“C’mon, c’mon,” I yelled, as I frantically waited for the news that the boys, aged 10, 7 and 2, would emerge from the dam near Winchelsea, about 100 kilometres south-west of Melbourne.
It was Father’s Day, September 4, 2005 and I was working the night shift on police rounds at Melbourne’s Herald-Sun. I got the dreaded call from Victoria Police that three boys were stuck in a car, deep in a dam.
I felt sick, really sick. I was waiting for the boys to emerge. Tick, tick, tick … “They’re gone,” I thought. “Who could survive longer than five minutes in that water?”
To me, the boys were faceless. I pictured them struggling, begging for help. For each help cry, they cop a mouthful of water. “A death sentence,” I thought. “No hope. Where’s their dad?”
I thought the boys would be saved, maybe by some heroic effort from their dad – or a bystander. Someone who knew what they were doing.
“I wish I could save them,” I thought. “I want to get in there and get those boys out. Jeeeeeez, it’s Father’s Day.”
I felt a chill down my spine. “Suss,” I thought. “How could three little boys end up on the floor of a murky dam when they should be celebrating with their family?
“How could they be there, in that lonely dam off the Princes Highway? What the hell?”
Time ticked on. I never felt so restless in my life. I knew the boys wouldn’t get out alive. I have two beautiful kids. I thought about them, warm and safe at home with their dad, tucked in bed.
Victoria Police told me the little boys were missing, feared drowned. I knew they were gone. With my eyes watering, I pieced together the horrific chain of events that led to the boys’ deaths.
You know the rest. Robert Farquharson was found guilty – twice - of the murders of his boys.
Sometimes, I sit on nightshift – in quiet times – and those faceless boys emerge from my conscience. Even though I know what Jai, Tyler and Bailey look like (after that night), they are still faceless to me. The unknown faces of that fateful night live vividly in my mind.
That trauma, you can’t escape it. If I’m still living with it, imagine what the boy’s mum, Cindy Gambino, is feeling.
Recovery is often as traumatic as the event itself.
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