By Charlotte Karp and Lisa Edser For Daily Mail Australia
10:26 22 Jan 2024, updated 10:26 22 Jan 2024
A father whose six-year-old boy drowned after briefly being left alone has revealed how his son was always ‘drawn’ to the water.
Heartbreakingly, he had been playing with his dad, but he was left alone for only three minutes whilst his father checked on his nine year-old brother, Braxton.
‘His favourite times were at the beach, because the sensory feeling of the sand was so exciting for him,’ Sage’s devastated father Andrew Pearman told NCA NewsWire.
‘He used to turn his head to the side and listen to the waves crash – he absolutely loved it, he loved the salt water and was just drawn to it. It was his favourite activity.’
The schoolboy also loved hiding and would often run into the laundry or crawl into small spaces.
But due to his autism, he never responded when his name was called.
‘We rent a large property but it takes about five minutes to check everything,’ Mr Pearman told Daily Mail Australia recently.
‘A few minutes passed and we searched everywhere and I called the police straight away and they got there within five minutes.’
Mr Pearman, who works as a truck driver, ran onto the street and started yelling out, asking neighbours if they’d seen his son.
About 20 minutes later, he was walking down a back street and saw an officer bolt down the road.
‘I jumped the fence and ran across the road and I saw the officer had my boy in his arms,’ he said, through tears.
‘I was trying to run to him but police were holding me back, they wouldn’t let me run to him or see him.’
Mr Pearman could see police trying to resuscitate Sage, before ambulances arrived and they began to cover the boy with white towels.
‘I knew it wasn’t good,’ he said.
The boy was found about 50 metres from the backyard where he went missing.
The ambulances took off with his son inside, but Mr Pearman and his partner Lauren Moore, 38, were asked to go to the hospital in another vehicle.
‘They weren’t speeding or moving fast, and I knew. I knew right then what had happened,’ he recalled.
‘The ambulance driver was saying, “it will all be OK” but I knew they would have been rushing us there if he was alive.’
When they arrived at the hospital, three doctors and a social worker told Mr Pearman and Ms Moore that their son was dead.
‘They took me into a room and I was with my baby for as long as I could, and then he was gone,’ he said.
His oldest son Braxton also has autism and, while his condition isn’t as severe as Sage’s was, he still struggles to understand situations.
Sage once came home from hospital in a cast because he fractured his foot so, when his brother didn’t come home last Thursday, Braxton kept asking whether his little brother had a cast again.
A few days later, Mr Pearman realised Braxton knew what happened when he said: ‘Sage is an angel now.’
The nine-year-old also started watching the children’s TV show, Hey Duggee on repeat within the last week. He never liked the program, but it was Sage’s favourite.
Mr Pearman said he was ‘completely blown away’ by the kindness and support the local community had shown his family within the last week.
‘As a father, it has completely humbled me to see there are people who can say and do such beautiful things,’ he said.
The family want to give Sage a Duggee-themed funeral with his favourite colours, red, orange and yellow.
Mr Pearman set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the costs – he was embarrassed to ask for help, but said there was no other way they could afford to give their son a proper funeral.
‘The fact I’m having to do this is so hard, and embarrassing, on top of the dark reality we’re about to face burying our six-year-old baby boy,’ he wrote.
‘But the reality of where we are currently at in life has left me no other option but to ask the universe for help.’
‘My only wish is that Sage can have the most beautiful send off and memorable memorial he can have, and the rest of his family can be at ease with what we’re about to face.’