• Police boat on the Swan River earlier this week. (AAP)
With the families calling for answers about the police pursuit, Indigenous leaders say the inquest into the deaths of two teenagers should happen soon.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
13 Sep 2018 - 2:30 PM  UPDATED 13 Sep 2018 - 2:41 PM

Indigenous community leaders are urging the WA government ensure the inquest into Monday's drowning deaths happens as soon as possible.

West Australian Aboriginal Legal Service CEO Dennis Eggington said the state government could provide additional resources to make this happen.

“Young boys would be absolutely in terror running, frightened and hitting the river and getting in more trouble and being more frightened. And I couldn’t think of anything worse,” Mr Egginton told ABC Perth.

Senator Pat Dodson also supports the call for a quick inquest.

“Why is the fear of police and in particular police in pursuit of such a magnitude that young people are prepared to risk their own lives by trying to swim across the Swan River rather than give themselves up?” he told ABC.

WA Attorney General John Quigley says he will consider a request from the state coroner for additional resources.

Families call for answers

The families of Chris Drage and Trisjack Simpson now want answers about exactly what happened in the lead up to their deaths.

Young Chris’s father, Christopher Drage, visited the riverbank in Perth’s inner suburb of Maylands for the first time.

He told reporters his son was a “good boy”.

“He made a fatal decision to jump in the river to get away from the police, obviously they were scared, they were only young boys,” he said.

“Why is the fear of police and in particular police in pursuit of such a magnitude that young people are prepared to risk their own lives by trying to swim across the Swan River rather than give themselves up?” - Senator Pat Dodson

Mr Drage along with young Chris’s step-mother wrapped an Aboriginal flag around a tree, just metres from where his son entered the river.

The tree has become a memorial site with friends and supporters leaving flowers at its base.

The father of Chris Drage said it has been hard seeing all the negative comments online.

"A lot of people want to blame other people or whatever, upbringings, and the police and that but I suppose for these young boys that's their way of having fun and unfortunately it cost them their lives," he said.

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“I ask people not to be judgemental and we all make silly mistakes as kids, and it’s just tragic that they lose their lives."

The family of Trisjack has recently request for the media to no longer his image for cultural reasons.

Mr Simpson’s other grandfather, Roderick Simpson says his grandson struggled to adapt to the city live after moving down from Mullewa, 450 kilometres north-east of Perth.

“Being in Perth he just didn't have that space. He's a country boy," he told ABC Perth.

"We're pretty much country people. There, we take kids to the police station and hand them over. In Perth you can't do that, it's not that simple."

Other family members want answers around the events leading up to the police chase.

Police commissioner Chris Dawson says the police are working closely with the family and is providing them with counselling.

West Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt gave his condolences to the families. 

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“My heart goes out to their families and their friends. I can only imagine their feelings of grief. This is a tragedy that should not have happened,” he told NITV News in a statement.

“The government will work closely with Aboriginal leaders and the Police Commissioner to improve relationships in a bid to avoid situations which lead to such heartbreaking loss of life.”

A memorial service will be held Saturday on the riverbank to give the friends, family, and community a chance to come together and celebrate the lives of the two teenage boys.