Mum’s agony over little Elenore’s short life
IN a matter of minutes, little Elenore Lindsay was gone.
The much-loved three-year-old, who vanished from a Sunshine Coast property on Monday afternoon, was found dead just hours later in a dam on her family's acreage at Cootharaba, north-west of Noosa.
The child's mother, Rowena Lindsay, yesterday paid tribute to her "beautiful little girl", as relatives revealed the family's devastating family history, including five miscarriages and Elenore's congenital heart defect.
"Our little girl was incredibly strong and determined,'' Rowena said.
"From the day Elenore came into the world early and was born with a defective heart she fought to survive. And she did," her mother told The Courier-Mail.
"Elenore was growing up a true little kid. She loved playing in the puddles, making a muddy mess and laughing. So many memories of her and thanks to technology - so many videos of her simply being a little kid."
Elenore - an only child - loved spending afternoons sitting on her grandfather's knee watching Steven Seagal movies.
Her aunt Penny Lindsay revealed Rowena had five miscarriages before giving birth to Elenore seven weeks premature.
"In the life she had, she had a rough start but at the end of it she was just a happy and healthy kid," Penny said.
Monday had started out like any other, before Elenore disappeared in just minutes while her mother was in the bathroom.
When Rowena got up Elenore was watching TV and when she came back her daughter was gone.
"It happened so fast, it was all in a matter of minutes," Penny said.
"Her mother went down to get the house phone and then she (Elenore) was gone. We searched for an hour and half before we called police. That was between 1.30-2pm."
Penny said the property had been in the family for 50 years.
She said a long-time neighbour had been the last to see the three-year-old alive.
The neighbour reportedly saw Elenore walking across the grass near home, but said she had been walking back towards the house.
"He (the neighbour) didn't think much because she was on her property," Penny said.
"He thought she was coming home, and yeah, unfortunately something obviously attracted her to the dam, so that's where she ended up."
Penny said the dam was about three metres deep where Elenore's body was found.
She said the family was understandably still in shock, with the toddler's grandfather collapsing late on Monday night.
She also thanked the community for the support, both in helping search for Elenore and also for the flood of messages she'd received since.
Locals yesterday were visiting the home, bringing flowers and balloons.
Police investigators remained on scene, and were spotted walking around the dam with cameras.
Elenore's godmother Tina Day said she would remain by Rowena's side while she grieved for her beloved daughter. "As I sit here literally with them across the table from me my heart is breaking watching their tears and pain," Ms Day said. "I don't know how to help them survive this. Who does? Please just honour a little girl and her mum who did everything right and was a good mum."
Despite the tragedy, the search for little Elenore showed exactly what the Cootharaba community was made of. More than a hundred residents held their torches and called out the three-year-old's name along Cootharaba Road long into Monday night.
Local resident Pam said she knew Rowena and Elenore. "I got straight here when I heard," she said.
State Emergency Service acting local officer Stan Ryan said 72 SES and rural and fire personnel were on scene for the search.
He described the terrain as "swampy scrub country" with pine forests as well as a series of dams which ran through the property.
Ms Day said the number of people who had been helping the family look for Elenore "has blown us away''.
Fighting back tears, she said it was "very out of character" for Elenore to go wandering off. "She's a kid and she explores but this is not normal so it's very, very stressful," she said.