Two teenage Aboriginal boys have drowned in Perth’s Swan River after diving in to evade police, with the tragedies to be treated the same as deaths in custody.
As police pursued five boys on foot following reports of teenagers jumping fences in suburban Maylands on Monday afternoon, four of them jumped into the water.
Police captured two, but the other two were seen struggling in the middle of the river and did not resurface, sparking an immediate and desperate search.
The first body was recovered on Monday night and the second was discovered on Tuesday morning.
The search continued amid fears a third boy had drowned as he was last seen running on the riverbank, but police confirmed he was safe with family on Tuesday afternoon.
A coroner will hold an inquest into the deaths, which will be treated with the same seriousness as a death in custody, Mr Dawson said.
Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Dennis Eggington urged the state government to put extra resources into the investigation, saying the vast majority of the Noongar community would be in mourning.
“I haven’t seen this level of grief, bordering on anger, but certainly grief and pain for a long, long time,” Mr Eggington told the ABC.
He said the boys would have been “absolutely in terror, running frightened and hitting the river, and being in more trouble and being more frightened”, while the survivors would be “scarred for the rest of their lives”.
Aboriginal activist Herbert Bropho told Nine news he held police responsible for the deaths.
Mr Dawson said the fatalities were “nothing short of a tragedy”.
© AAP 2018