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Australia Family grieving after horror crash kills two young children

08:05  10 july  2018
08:05  10 july  2018 Source:   theage.com.au

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A family is grieving and a tight-knit religious community is in shock after the death of two young children in a head-on collision in Melbourne's west. Ruana, 10, was killed at the scene. Her father George Panicker, mother Manju Varughese and brother Immanuel George, 4, were rushed to hospital.

A tight-knit community in Melbourne's north west is reeling after the death of two children in a head-on collision, which left their mother fighting for life.

The family was travelling home from a birthday celebration when the crash occured.© Supplied The family was travelling home from a birthday celebration when the crash occured. A family is grieving and a tight-knit religious community is in shock after the death of two young children in a head-on collision in Melbourne's north west. The children have been identified as Ruana and Immanuel George.

The children were travelling home with their parents from a birthday celebration when a Ford Territory attempting to overtake another car collided with their Ford Focus on Hopkins Road in Truganina in the early hours of Sunday.

Ruana, 10, was killed at the scene. Her father George Panicker, mother Manju Varughese and brother Immanuel George, 4, were rushed to hospital.

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Immanuel, also known as Manu, died at the Royal Children's Hospital at around 6.30pm on Monday night. His mother Manju remains in a critical condition. Mr Panicker was released from hospital but remained there, by his wife's side.

The driver of the Ford Territory, a 41-year-old man from Rockbank, was also taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He remains in hospital under police guard and is yet to be interviewed.

Immanuel and Ruana George.© Supplied Immanuel and Ruana George. The family has been described as loving, quiet, religious people by their community in Melbourne's west.

The vicar of St Mary's Indian Orthodox Cathedral in Melbourne, Reverend Father Pradeep Ponnachan, told The Age they were well-known members of the church.

"They were a devoted, pious family," he said. "The church community is terribly disturbed, there is no words to explain."

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A special prayer meeting is being held on Tuesday night at St Mary's Indian Orthodox Cathedral in Coburg to remember the two children and pray for Manju's recovery.

"[When I heard the news] I was terribly disturbed, I was almost in tears. I asked God to give me strength. It was Sunday morning, prior to the Eucharist, when we heard the news and it was very disturbing," said Reverend Father Ponnachan.

A note written by Ruana last year about classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam.© Supplied A note written by Ruana last year about classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam. He has since been staying at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to support Mr Panicker.

Melbourne teacher Christina Prakanthan said she had taught Ruana classical Indian dancing for over three years.

She last saw the bright 10-year-old at her regular class on Friday night. She had been helping her prepare for her grade one dance exam, which was scheduled for July 14.

“She started here as a young girl, she was six years old when she came," said Ms Prakanthan, who owns a dance school in Caroline Springs which teaches Bharathanatyam, a type of Indian classical dance.

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Share: A tight-knit community in Melbourne's west is reeling after the death of two children in a head-on collision, which left their mother fighting for life.

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"She was really friendly with everyone, a bit shy in the class, a nice girl. I just loved her so much."

Ms Prakanthan said the family had been coming home after a birthday party when the crash occurred.

"They are lovely people. Quiet always, don't talk much, but really lovely people," she said.

"It's a tragedy, I'm just unable to think she's no more. It's really hard to take in the news and come to terms with it. She's a young girl, she was just here. He's just a little boy, both are lovely children.

In a note to her teacher last year, Ruana wrote: "What Bhanthanatyam [Indian classical dancing] means to me. Trying your best and having a go, it also means to me learning all the steps and doing what the teacher says. And it also means to practise every day."

Other parents who have children at the dance school who knew Ruana and her mother Manju have expressed their shock after the news spread on Sunday.

In messages given to The Age via the dance school, parent Ujjwala Mukadam said: "Ruana had a very cute smile, and [was] my daughter Sanika's best buddy in dance class. Rest in peace little angel."

"She is very bubbly and a talented little girl. I saw her in a group dancing performance with other kids... I don't know why she stole my eye," said another parent.

Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives are investigating the crash.

It brings the total number of road deaths for 2018 to 106, compared to 128 deaths at this time in 2017.

Police have urged anyone who witnessed the collision to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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