Rita Ndel, 9, died after she failed to resurface from the river after falling in on Monday afternoon. Photo: Contributed
Rita Ndel, 9, died after she failed to resurface from the river after falling in on Monday afternoon. Photo: Contributed

Mother tells of heartbreak after Ross River drowning

THE devastated mother of a young girl who drowned in the Ross River has spoken of the hole in her heart since her daughter's death.

Aitkenvale State School student Rita Ndel, 9, died after she failed to resurface from the river after falling in on Monday afternoon.

Police said she had been playing with her twin sister on the banks of the Ross River at Rossiter Park when it's believed the pair fell in.

The young girl's mother Nundu Byossa, of Congolese background told of her pain through an interpreter and said her daughter was an incredibly smart and bright girl.

"She used to say that she would be a doctor," her mother said, through interpreter Safari Irenge.

Ms Byossa said she had been left devastated and in that moment she felt hopeless and wanted to give her daughter her breath.

"She was imagining that she's dreaming … and she's still having those thoughts, whether it's true, is it real that she's gone," Mr Irenge recounted.

Ms Byossa said in losing her daughter it felt like "something was missing".

Her mother described her as a "star".

"Sometimes, she would come home and instead of going to play like other kids she would read some books and be interested in education … she, (her mother) think in the future this girl would be very educated," Mr Irenge recounted.

It's unclear when a funeral may be held as investigations into her death continues.

Mr Irenge, who is a close family friend, said he was hoping the wider community would support the family during this difficult time especially in the lead up to the funeral.

The young girl was the third child to drown in the Ross River this year.

Townsville City Council Acting Mayor Les Walker said it had been a terrible tragedy.

"Our thoughts are with the relatives and friends of the little girl. It's important that the investigation is allowed to take place and we can understand the circumstances surrounding the incident," he said.

Asked whether more needed to be done to ensure safety along the river, he said: "Public safety is always our priority, but we should wait for the outcome of the investigation and another case that is currently in the courts before we make any further comment."

Earlier this week, Townsville Child Protection Investigation Unit officer-in-charge detective Senior Sergeant Dave Miles dismissed the need to erect signage or barriers along the Ross River to prevent any further deaths, amid a spate of drownings.

A memorial will be held for Rita at Rossiter Park from 2pm to 4pm and all are invited.


Man pulled over for breath test, arrested with five charges

premium_icon Man pulled over for breath test, arrested with five charges

A roadside breath test results in five separate charges for one man.

WATCH: Huge mine blast sends 1.3 million cubic metres flying

premium_icon WATCH: Huge mine blast sends 1.3 million cubic metres flying

World’s largest ‘blast’ goes off without a hitch at Bowen Basin mine.

'Gentle conversations': How sexual violence awareness begins

premium_icon 'Gentle conversations': How sexual violence awareness begins

Cannonvale school helps spread message about respect at all ages.