Police are investigating whether three people who died in Central Australia became separated from a broken down car and died from exposure.

The bodies of a 19-year-old man, a 19-year-old woman and a three-year-old boy were discovered near their broken down vehicle in the Willowra district, more than 300km north of Alice Springs, on Wednesday.

At a press conference on Thursday morning, Investigators revealed that a major land and air search is now underway for another child who they believe may have also been in the car.

“Further enquiries indicate it is possible a 12-year-old boy was a passenger in the vehicle and was not among the three people found dead,” police said.

Family members have not authorised the release of the child’s name, however have advised Police that members in the surrounding communities of Ali Curung, Ti Tree and Willowra are aware of his particulars.

NT police were alerted to the deaths near Willowra, around 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, when a person walked into a local health clinic and raised the alarm just after midday yesterday.

It was first suspected the people died in a car crash, but Duty Superintendent Shaun Gill said that possibility had been ruled out.

Police do not believe the deaths were suspicious.

Duty Superintendent Gill said investigators were still driving back from the Jarra Jarra Access Road, about 62 kilometres from Willowra, as he spoke to ABC Radio this morning.

“One of the avenues we’re looking at is that they’ve walked off from a vehicle in extreme weather and may have got caught out,” he said.

“Initially we thought it was the result of a car crash, however we’re confident it’s not.

“We don’t believe the circumstances are suspicious.”

Police have not released details about the people who died. Police will continue investigations and prepare a report for the coroner.

Share your comments below

  • How horrible for their families, may they rest in peace


  • This is so sad :(


  • Unfortunately they found his body about 120m from the car, so horrible.


  • So sad


  • is there an update on this story?


  • So sad and a tragic reminder of the harsh climate Australia can have. I hope the boy they’re looking for is found alive and well.


  • How tragic this is ! I hope and pray they find this 12yr old alive and well !!


  • Sadly it ended very badly. Poor child. :-(

    • Just saw a news update – so heartbreaking.


  • Very tragic and sad


  • Hope they find him safe and well, what a scary thing to happen. Very sad for the family that passed


  • This is a terrible tragedy. I fear for the fate of the missing 12 year old boy. Unless he found water very quickly it is such a hot area. We always carry a reasonable quantity of water in the boot of our car. We also take drink containers of water when we go out even if it is going to be only a few km. Even with constant servicing you never know when you may have car issues and have to wait for Emergency Vehicle Assistance. Even in a city metropolitan area you can wait quite awhile – even longer in bad weather. The same applies in country towns and you can wait over 1/2 hour even if you are reasonably close to a large country town.


  • How terrible I hope he’s found safe and well.


  • So scary. Let’s hope they will find the child safe and sound.


  • I hope they find him quickly.


  • I really hope he’s not too far and can be found soon.


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