Mother of perished kids released

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 09 April 2015 | 20.01

Footage has emerged of the moments before the Wyndham Vale lake plunge. Courtesy: Seven News

  • One-year-old Bol, four-year-old Madit and his twin sister Anger died
  • The condition of five-year-old Awel has improved and is now listed as serious
  • Their 35-year-old mother Akon Guode, who was driving the car, has been released from police guard in hospital
  • Ms Guode released after police interview

THE heartbroken father of the children killed when their car plunged into a lake in Melbourne's west does not believe their mother would ever hurt their children.

It comes as Akon Guode has tonight been released by police after an interview.

Joseph Tito Manyang said Ms Guode's life revolved around her seven kids, aged one to 18.

"She is a very good mother," he said.

"She was very happy. I don't think she planned to do anything."

He pleaded with the community to not speculate and allow police to do their investigation.

He said he had missed a call from Ms Guode about 2.16pm yesterday and when he tried to call back he got no response.

He then got a call to say there'd been an accident at the lake.

Mr Manyang, who briefly visited the lake today, said it was "a big shock" to lose three children at once.

But he said his faith, knowing his children were now in God's hands, would help him through the loss.

Madit and Anger, both 4, and Bol, 1, were killed after the 4WD plunged into Lake Gladman on Manor Lakes Blvd in Wyndham Vale about 3.40pm yesterday.

Their five-year-old sister Awel remains in intensive care at the Royal Children's Hospital in a serious condition. Awel remains in the intensive care unit, but is awake and doing well.

Ms Guode has been assisting homicide squad and Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives with their investigation.

Mr Manyang's niece Amani Alier, 16, said the family could do nothing to console her devastated uncle.

"He's shattered, he couldn't stop crying, his nose was bleeding," the teenager said.

"He just dropped when he saw a picture of his son on the wall.

"It's so hard for him to deal with. He loved those kids."

Relatives said Mr Manyang worked as a postman and described him as a supportive and caring father who loved his children.

The 4WD was removed from the lake by police this afternoon.

A relative described the young victims as angels.

"We will never forget you little angels," Tety Chol Malual said.

The 4WD is removed from the lake this afternoon. Picture: Paul Loughnan Source: HeraldSun

Flowers and toys have been left at the scene. Picture: Paul Loughnan Source: News Corp Australia

A crowd watches a police diver at the scene earlier today. Picture: Mark Stewart Source: News Corp Australia

The car plunged into Lake Gladman in Wyndham Vale. Source: HeraldSun

Ms Guode, from Wyndham Vale, is well known among the close-knit migrant community in Melbourne's west.

Thomas Kok, the cousin of the children's father, said the family had moved from South Sudan in 2008.

Police have urged members of the Sudanese community to come forward and provide information about the family.

"We need to understand what led to this, we need to understand what was happening in their lives," Superintendent Stuart Bateson said.

"Hopefully this will lead to a greater understanding of what led to this incident. We appeal especially to the Sudanese community who might know what was happening in this family's life, what their movements were before this tragedy."

There remained limited information about the crash, including whether the vehicle was speeding, or any direct evidence at this point.

Assessing the car's speed was a focus today.

It was "way too" early to say if the mother could face charges.

"In a situation like this the seriousness of what's happened here today, we always start off with getting the best investigators involved," Supt Bateson said.

Today a large group of people who had earlier been at the family home laid flowers and soft toys at the scene, weeping uncontrollably. One woman needed help to walk.

Missy Wiw, a sister-in-law of the children, said the incident was "just devastating".

"They're (the children) in a better place now," she said.

She spoke at the family home as at least a dozen relatives came to grieve together this morning. Wailing could be heard from inside the home.

"We're trying to find out how she lost control of the car and what really happened," Ms Wiw said.

Family friend and community member Maciek Nek said: "It's a big loss to us. It's a big loss to that whole community of Australia."

"She came down here to have a better life," Mr Nek said of the mother.

Family friend Maciek Nek visits a makeshift shrine at the scene today. Picture: Paul Loughnan Source: News Corp Australia

Flowers and children's toys have been left at the lake. Picture: Paul Loughnan Source: HeraldSun

Victoria Police spokeswoman Belle Nolan said police have spoken to several onlookers but were appealing for any other witnesses to come forward.

"It's believed the grey 2005 Toyota Kluger 4WD was travelling south towards Pedder St and Minindee Rd when the incident occurred," Ms Nolan said.

"Police particularly wish to speak to anyone who saw the car between 3.30pm and 3.45pm."

Martha Mayola, whose children walk to school at Manor Lakes College with some of those from the family involved, said: "I say thank you for Australia and the people here in Wyndham Vale.

"They really support us. Today we see a lot of flowers here. Thank you for your support.

"We are really sad because we lost our children. These children, they walk to school with my children. We don't know why the car go through the water. But when you find out what has happened we need big support in our community. So this will not happen again."

She implored the community to rally behind the kids left behind.

In frantic scenes yesterday, witnesses desperately smashed the windows of the car after it plunged into the water 25m from the shore.

Supt Bateson said police were unsure whether the car was driving erratically before entering the lake.

Mark England, 42, came down to the lake last night after hearing sirens blaring.

"I thought it might have been a hoon driver, so it was a bit shocking to realise it was a family," Mr England said.

He said at least four firefighters leapt into the water after realising the children were trapped.

"The fireys were starting to resuscitate some people, and I could tell they were children," he said.

"Then they must have realised somehow that there was another missing person and they started looking and opening the doors of the car."

His neighbour, who is also a firefighter, found another child in the water.

"They'd been in the water the whole time I was there, so it was quite a while," Mr England said.

Police at the scene yesterday. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: News Corp Australia

Some residents vowed to leave their porch lights on tonight in a tribute to the children.

The gesture appears to have been started by local Georgie Low who posted on Facebook about the idea yesterday.

Premier Daniel Andrews paid tribute to the onlookers who tried to rescue the children from the car.

"I'm really proud that local residents put themselves at risk and jumped in to try and save those kids," he said.

"That's something we should all be really really proud of, just that instinctive doing the right thing when it's called for.''

He said it was "a horrible, horrible tragedy".

"Our thoughts and our prayers and our best wishes and hearts go out to the family involved — to all of those who loved those three little kids," he said.

Mr Andrews said Victorians should also spare a thought for police and paramedics who attended the scene.

Anyone who witnessed the crash is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

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