A man who killed himself along with his nine-month-old daughter Kobi, who was strapped to his body in a baby carrier, was a known domestic violence offender.
Paramedics were called to the famous Whispering Wall dam walkway in South Australia’s Barossa Valley at 4.30pm on Wednesday to respond to a psychiatric incident.
On arrival, they found 38-year-old Henry Shepherdson and Kobi at the base of the dam below in what police are now calling a tragic murder suicide.
Witnesses had desperately tried to talk him down from the safety barrier, Assistant Commissioner Ian Parrott said on Thursday, and battled to save the baby girl.
Shepherdson was already dead as members of the public performed CPR on little Kobi.
Emergency services took over but she was declared dead about 15 minutes later, and by 4.48pm the mission had changed to a body retrieval.
Emergency services worked on the little girl (pictured) for about 15 minutes before she, too, was declared dead at the scene
Shepherdson was legally entitled to see Kobi, despite earlier suggestions she had been kidnapped
Paramedics were called to the Whispering Wall dam in the Barossa Valley about 4.30pm to respond to what was described as a psychiatric incident
Assistant Commissioner Parrott confirmed on Thursday the matter was being treated as a murder suicide.
Shepherdson was legally entitled to see Kobi, despite earlier suggestions she had been kidnapped, police explained.
But Mr Parrott said there was a lengthy history of domestic violence within the family and that Shepherdson was known to police.
While not at a liberty to discuss the details of the previous offences, he did say they occurred between Shepherdson and Kobi’s mother.
Daily Mail Australia understands Shepherdson had previously threatened to kill both Kobi and her mother, and had faced court for breaching a restraining order.
He most recently fronted a South Australian court on March 19 for contravening the intervention order.
Two weeks prior to that on March 4, he appeared on several charges including threatening to kill, committing assault against own child/spouse and false imprisonment.
‘We have been involved on some domestic violence incidents in the past and there are court orders in place in relation to the family,’ Mr Parrott said.
‘It’s resulted in this absolutely tragic outcome.’
Kobi’s face will be ‘the face of domestic violence moving forward’, Mr Parrot said, urging the public to ‘remember her beautiful face’ through photos that her heartbroken mother has supplied to the police
Kobi (pictured) was killed after her father plunged from the Whispering Wall in South Australia
Kobi’s heartbroken mother shared a selection of adorable pictures of her happy baby with the hope that she will be remembered for how much joy she brought her family.
Mr Parrot said it was likely her smiley face will become ‘the face of domestic violence’ moving forward.
A formal identification process is yet to take place, and the investigation will continue.
Late on Wednesday, a chilling dispatch log uncovered by Daily Mail Australia revealed the chaotic moments that unfolded as ambulances, police crews and rescue teams raced to the tourist spot, where they found stunned tourists watching on in horror.
Mr Parrott said several witnesses had tried to stop him from jumping and talk him off the ledge.
The callout was listed as ‘psychiatric’ on an emergency services scanner; a term used for an incident involving mental illness or a suicide attempt.
Henry Shepherdson and Kobi plunged to their deaths from the ‘Whispering Wall’ dam (pictured)
The dad (not pictured) was already dead when emergency services found him at the bottom of the wall after 4.30pm. Paramedics tried to revive the baby but she also died at the scene
Timeline of emergency response
4:30pm – Ambulance from Hamley Bridge station is sent out to respond to a ‘psychiatric’ incident
4:32pm – SA Ambulance Service send out another unit from Hamley Bridge for an ’emergency’ callout
4:32pm – Dispatch send out another unit from Playford ambulance station – which is closer to the dam – for the same ’emergency’
4:32pm – A third ambulance is sent from nearby Oakden station
4:36pm – An urgent call is made for a MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter
4:40pm – Call placed to the SAAS Special Operations Team – a team of highly-trained rescue paramedics.
4.42pm – Emergency crews request permission for the helicopter to land
4.48pm – Mission changes to a body retrieval
Two minutes later, a call for help was placed to teams from the Playford and Oakden ambulance stations for an ’emergency’ situation that was unfolding.
Things escalated as units arrived at the dam, with the MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter sent at 4.36pm.
Just minutes after that team was called, emergency services sent out its Special Operations Team – a crew of paramedics who specialise in high-risk search and rescue procedures usually involving water and cliff rescues.
One mother, who claims she was at the popular lookout with her children, took to social media to describe the horror she witnessed.
‘So painful having to see what happened with my babies,’ she said.
Local MP Stephan Knoll vowed to investigate the safety of the region if a coronial inquest found it was lacking.
‘It is a very popular tourist attraction and something that young people and kids of generations have been going to visit and not before have we heard or seen of an incident like this,’ he said.
‘But, having said that, if things need to be done to modify the structure, then that’s something we need to look at.
‘It is just heartbreaking… it does hit everybody hard… and we all do need to band together,’ Knoll told ABC Radio Adelaide.
Police said they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the deaths at this stage.
Detectives from Barossa CIB, forensic investigators and the Major Crime Branch remained on the scene on Wednesday evening looking into what caused the tragedy.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
A chilling dispatch log (above) shows how the first team of paramedics from Hamley Bridge station were sent to a suspected psychiatric incident
As more crews arrived the mission changed to a rescue mission and then body retrieval
The Whispering Wall is the retaining wall of the Barossa Reservoir, and in recent years has become a tourist attraction for carrying sound from one side to the other.
‘What draws visitors to the Whispering Wall is its unique acoustic effects: words whispered at one side can be clearly heard at the other, more than 100 metres away. Children in particular love visiting the wall and testing its abilities,’ the Barossa website says.
‘Children in particular love visiting the wall and testing its abilities.’
Built between 1899 and 1903, the dam was a revolutionary engineering feat for its day and has attracted tourists from all over the world.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing mental health issues contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
DV Crisis Line 1800 800 098
The Whispering Wall is the retaining wall of the Barossa Reservoir, and in recent years has become a tourist attraction for carrying sound from one side to the other
South Australia Whispering Wall: Man who jumped to his death while holding daughter known to police