The grandparents of two young boys killed by their father in an apparent murder-suicide in Port Lincoln have publicly thanked emergency services and their community for their support.
Father, sons' bodies pulled from submerged car
The bodies of a South Australian father and his two sons are pulled from a car that appears to have been deliberately driven off a wharf in the town of Port Lincoln.
Damien Little, 34, drove his Ford station wagon into the ocean off the Port Lincoln wharf on Monday, with his sons Koda, 4, and Hunter, nine months, inside. All three died.
Ken and Sue Little, the parents of Damien Little, and Dale and Debby Goldsworthy, the parents of his wife Melissa Little, released a joint statement to Fairfax Media on Wednesday night.
"In relation to our recent family tragedy, we would like to thank the SA police force, emergency and diving services and our local community as a whole on your care and support over the past two days," the statement said.
"We would like to ask everyone to respect the privacy of all members of Melissa and Damien's families – immediate and extended – at this time.
"In regards to the media coverage the tragedy has received already, we feel that although the articles in the papers and on TV have been sympathetic and supportive, we would like time to privately grieve. We ask the media particularly to respect this wish.
We will issue a statement through Police Media on behalf of Melissa in coming days."
Mr Little's parents had previously told Adelaide Advertiser their son - one of five boys - had spiralled into a "dark" space.
"He was very particular about everything he did. I think he wanted to be perfect - he wanted to be a perfect father and husband. He wanted to do everything right. He was very hard on himself. He wanted to live a perfect life," Ms Little said.
"Over the past three years he had a bit of a problem, we had noticed a change. When we saw (it) the whole family tried to help him. He had a lot of people offering help. We tried to help him, we all did. But you can't help somebody who can't help himself."
She said he had a "wonderful" relationship with his wife and she had "lost everyone".
The Lincoln South Football Club, where Mr Little played and coached, is holding a get-together on Saturday with the United Yeelanna Football Club, where Mr Little had also played.
"It's a chance where we can come together as a club and a group and as friends and family just to be together and one that will hopefully ease the pain," Lincoln South president Brenton Dennis said.
"We want to raise awareness, to show people there's help, there's guidance and as much as the children within our club are confused (as to why), us parents are as equally confused."
Mr Dennis, who knew the family, said the feeling in the town was similar to the aftermath of deadly bushfires in 2005.
"It's like people are all in a dream, in a daze, it's like we're under a cloud. This cloud's above everyone and it's hard to have a general conversation," he said.
He urged outsiders to hold their judgment of Mr Little.
"No one has the right to pass judgment," he said.
"If someone was coming along with a happy persona, enthusiastic, encouraging, a leader and a role model in your club, to know that when he's not with you he's unhappy or unstable, if we couldn't pick that up how could anyone else?"
Mr Dennis said he could not imagine what Mr Little's wife Mel, a school teacher, was going through.
The couple met at a local high school and were married in Port Lincoln in 2011.
"I can't imagine at all what it's like to lose your children and the father of your children all in one hit. It would be bad enough if it was a car crash, but to happen in the way it's happened, I just don't know," Mr Dennis said.
The wharf where the incident occurred has become a shrine of flowers and soft toys from the Port Lincoln community.
"The outpouring of grief at that pop-up memorial site is palpable," Port Lincoln mayor Bruce Green said.
"We'll do whatever we can to protect that site."
- with the Port Lincoln Times.
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