By HARRY CLARKE
FAMILY and friends desperately trawled a dam north of Tara several times for Ruby Gulliver, but turned up nothing, before police divers eventually found her little body submerged about 1am.
The 2-year-old went missing about 3.30pm on Monday, March 8, when it’s understood her mother looked away briefly while using the bathroom at their property on Males Rd, on the southern edge of the Wieambilla forest.
Police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Detectives have been at the property this morning and it’s understood QPS Scenes of Crime officers will also attend to continue routine investigations.
Country Caller was welcomed onto the property by the owner’s nephew, Phillip Shier, who is a longterm friend of Ruby’s parents and also lives on the property in a separate dwelling.
Phillip said Ruby’s parents, Trent and Sky, were completely devastated when the hours-long search for their first born child ended in tragedy. They also have a second baby daughter, Sarah.
He said Ruby’s young mother collapsed in grief when police confirmed her body had been found in the dam. Her father was in a state of tearful shock.
Local police, the dog squad, SES, a police helicopter and workers from nearby gas fields were involved in the search. Authorities were called about 30 minutes after Ruby disappeared but it was hours before she was found.
“As soon as night hit they (police) stopped letting us (friends any family) help search, so we just sat there, twiddling our thumbs,” Phillip said.
“We had people in town searching the streets because they ended up locking the house, so no one was allowed to help (on the property). Everyone that wasn’t allowed in were just driving around the whole area.”
He said searchers had feared Ruby had gone into the dam, and had walked through the water several times to no avail before authorities arrived.
Ruby’s family had only lived at the property for about two weeks. Philip Shier said Ruby had “never wandered off, especially to the dam” during that time.
Leading the search effort was police inspector Terry McCullough, who said the tragedy served as a warning about children’s safety on country properties.
“This is a really tragic thing and unfortunately it’s not the first time it’s happened,” Inspector McCullough said.
“It was extremely sad news for everyone involved, our condolences go out to the family and the community at large there.”
Phillip Shier said Ruby was a “happy” little girl and a doting older sister to baby Sarah.
“She was full of life. She was a bit quiet if she didn’t know you, but if she knew you she never shut up,” Phillip said.
Trent Gulliver, Ruby’s father, told the Courier Mail she was “always full of energy, smiling and laughing” and that “you could not have asked for (a) better child.”
A report is being prepared for the coroner.