Family speaks after toddler’s bus death


His uncle Nick said that from an Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander’s perspective, the family was now in “sorry business” and pulling together to overcome the loss.

“He was a three-year-old boy, deeply connected to his siblings, peers and older children and played a big part in a very close knitted family,” Nick said on Wednesday, refraining from naming the boy for cultural reasons.

“As you can imagine the sudden loss of our little boy has been distressing for the family.

“It’s left many of us with the difficult task of trying to come to terms with his loss.”

The uncle, Nick, of the boy who died after being left on a daycare bus reads a statement on behalf of the family at the Cairns police station. Picture: Stewart McLeanSource:News Corp Australia

Uncle Nick read the statement to media flanked by three other family members and thanked Queensland police for their support and guidance.

“For us as a family it’s an unprecedented incident and consequently it has affected the larger community and that’s been demonstrated by the support our families have received,” he said.

The boy died after being left on a minibus for some six hours on February 18 before he was discovered by centre manager and bus driver Michael Glen Lewis.

Lewis and another childcare worker, Dionne Beatrice Grills, have been charged with manslaughter over the death and both have been bailed on the condition neither contact co-workers, each other or the victim’s family.

Lewis was ordered to surrender his passport and not come within 100m of an international point of departure.

Michael Lewis, 45, was charged with manslaughter over the boy’s death. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAP

Michael Lewis, 45, was charged with manslaughter over the boy’s death. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAPSource:AAP

Dionne Grills, a childcare worker at the centre, was also charged with manslaughter. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAP

Dionne Grills, a childcare worker at the centre, was also charged with manslaughter. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAPSource:AAP

Their charges will again be mentioned in the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 18.

During the bail hearing on Tuesday the court heard that Lewis told authorities “my whole life is over” after finding the body of a toddler in the back of the kindy bus he had been driving.

He made the comment during a call to triple-0 immediately after discovering the boy on the Goodstart Early Learning Centre bus at about 3.15pm, media reported.

According to the transcript of the call read out to the court, Lewis told the emergency operator: “Oh my God, this kid is dead. The child was left on the bus all day. So sorry, buddy.”

“I’m going to jail. Oh my God, my whole life is over.”

Police allege the boy was left on the bus when it was parked for the day outside Hambledon State School, about 1.7km from Goodstart’s Edmonton centre.

The boy was left in the vehicle for hours. Picture: Brendan Radke

The boy was left in the vehicle for hours. Picture: Brendan RadkeSource:News Corp Australia

Members of the public have laid flowers and left teddies at the Goodstart Early Learning Centre. Picture: Brendan Radke

Members of the public have laid flowers and left teddies at the Goodstart Early Learning Centre. Picture: Brendan RadkeSource:News Corp Australia

Lewis, 45, was driving the minibus that collected the child from his home about 9am that morning.

Grills, 34, was also on the bus on the morning of the boy’s death. She was a casual employee who had been working at the centre for less than a month, the court was told.

On Tuesday, Acting Detective Inspector Jason Smith spoke to reporters outside the court, saying the charges should provide answers for the boy’s devastated family.

“The manslaughter charge refers to an act or a mission which is negligent and has brought about the death of another person,” he said.

One of the boy’s relatives, Sydney man Thomas Namok, has told the ABC he’s struggling to comprehend what happened.

“We’re all distraught at the moment. We just can’t believe this has happened. We just want answers,” he said.

“He was just a cheerful little boy we would always laugh every time he’s around. That’s what I remember of him. It’s going to be sad he’s not going to be around anymore.”



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