Tragic death of Little Rock


The day started like any other - bright and early, as the taxi arrived shortly after 5.30 am to pick up the youngest member of the family for school. Eleven-year-old Lisel Augis sat on her parents’ bed while her father, Paul, helped her put on her shoes.

The minibus taxi, driven by Jacob Humphreys, arrived at 5.40 am. Lisel climbed in and opened the window. “I want you to come and say goodbye to me again,” she shouted at her mother. Ingrid Augis smiled and shook her head. “See you this afternoon!” she shouted at her daughter.

That was the last time Ingrid and Paul saw their child alive. Lisel, along with nine other children, died when a train ploughed into the minibus after the taxi driver apparently ignored all warnings and drove across the tracks.

“The next time we saw her was in the morgue,” Ingrid says quietly. “We were called to identify her body at three in the afternoon. There wasn’t a mark on her. She didn’t look frightened – she looked as if she’d wake up at any moment.”

The fact their child seemed so peaceful is comforting to Paul and Ingrid – and after all the suffering she endured after her horror ordeal four years ago, that is something.

Lisel, or Little Rock as she’d been dubbed, was lured into bushes by Abraham James, a family friend, on 5 November 2006. He raped her before beating her head with a rock and stabbing her. He then set her alight and left her for dead. But Lisel crawled away and defied the odds by surviving – and promptly became a national heroine.

Ingrid and her husband are trying to make sense of her death. “She was with us for 11 years. A few of those years were difficult but we must now focus on the good times we had with her,” Paul says. “That morning it was her time to go . . .”

I ask Ingrid one last question: what should Lisel’s legacy be? “That her name, Little Rock, lives on,” she replies. “And that people will remember she fought to the end to live life to the full.”

Jacob Humphreys appeared in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court on 31 August on 10 charges of culpable homicide. At the court he breezily greeted journalists and waved at them. He is due to appear in court again on 7 September.

Read more about Lisel's tragic story in the YOU of 9 September 2010

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