The grieving aunt of a little girl found dead in a Queensland dam has thanked the army of volunteers who searched for her.
Penny Lindsay said her family was devastated by the loss of Elenore Lindsay after the three-year-old wandered away from her home on a rural property at Cootharaba, near Noosa.
The little girl vanished on Monday afternoon. Police divers found her body about midnight, in a dam about 150 metres away from the house.
Ms Lindsay said Elenore was a happy child whose arrival thrilled her mother Rowena after she suffered a series of miscarriages.
She said the little girl had been watching TV and disappeared when her mum went to the bathroom.
“It happened so fast, it was all in a matter of minutes,” Ms Lindsay has told The Courier-Mail.
The family mounted an hour-long search of the property before calling police.
Divers found her tiny body in the water after an eight-hour search that involved scores of locals who turned up with torches, desperate to help find her.
In a Facebook post, Ms Lindsay offered thanks to all those who helped, and encouraged them to leave tributes for the little girl.
“Thank you to everyone who [came to] help there are about 300 of you who we cannot thank enough,” she wrote.
“We appreciate everything that you all did and the support that came along thank you to everyone it’s sad news.
“We searched so hard hoping she was curled up asleep and unfortunately she was so close all along. Rip Elenore you will be missed you didn’t deserve this.”
She said a lot of people had asked if they could visit the property and leave flowers and teddy bears in honour of Elenore.
She encouraged people to do that, saying it would provide some comfort to Elenore’s mother.
A fund-raising campaign has been launched to help cover the funeral costs.
Police Superintendent Daryl Johnson also praised people who turned up wanting to help.
“One of the great things about our community on the Sunshine Coast is that in times of need people come out and help. So that was fantastic to see in really tragic circumstances,” he told the ABC.
“Police have been in constant contact with the family and we will make certain they get the support that they need at this time.
Police will prepare a report for the coroner.