The family of a five-year-old boy who drowned at a southern Sydney beach on Sunday say they want him to be remembered as a bubbly little boy with a big smile.
"He was such a beautiful little boy,’’ Rodney Kahil said of his nephew, Ayman Ksebe, whose body was found about 20 metres off Sandringham beach on Monday morning.
"We want everyone to remember him as a beautiful boy."
Ayman had just finished kindergarten at Condell Park Public School, Kahil said, as he stood with Ayman's cousin, professional boxer Billy Dib, on the beach where the little boy slipped under the water a day earlier, while swimming with his 12-year-old brother, Rami.
The five-year-old was swimming with Rami in shallow water near the Georges River 16-foot Sailing Club when Ayman fell into a deep trough. Rami tried to save his little brother and saw him disappear under the surface.
Kahil said Rami was finding it hard to accept the death of his little brother, while Ayman's mother, Rouba Ksebe, wanted to warn everyone of the dangers of swimming at the beach.
Ksebe clutched a much-loved stuffed animal in her hands on Monday morning as she walked to the water's edge where her five-year-old son was last seen alive, having heard the news that police divers had found his body.
Two men had their arms around her as she reached the shoreline of Botany Bay and walked out on to the sand with a dozen family members.
Police stood with Ayman's relatives as they tried to come to terms with the horrific ending to a family day at the beach, near the mouth of Georges River.
Divers sighted the boy's body at 10.10am on Monday.
Botany Bay water police Senior Sergeant Brett Prentice said Ayman was found 20 metres from the shore, directly in front of a toilet block in Peter Depena Reserve, opposite Botany Bay.
Because of low visibility divers were searching one metre at a time when they came across his body.
Relatives shook the hands of police in the reserve upon hearing the news.
St George commander Superintendent David Donohue said he had informed Ksebe. "She is very devastated," he said.
Two Lebanese brothers drowned six years ago in almost the same spot as where Ayman disappeared on Sunday.
Jet skier Dino Haritos, of Sylvania Waters, spent Sunday afternoon searching for Ayman and said the area where he went missing could be deceptive.
“Conditions were horrendous, it was a very strong current. Very windy,” Haritos said.
“I know the areas quite well, have been living here for 20 years, and it is a bit of a black hole, especially when the current is up.”
Haritos said Ayman and his brother walked about five metres from shore.
In front of them was a deep drop of more than three metres.
“Having children of my own I really feel for the family. No time is a good time but a few days prior to Christmas really hurts."
Helicopters, water police, divers and Marine Rescue NSW volunteers scoured the water for Ayman after news of his disappearance broke about 4pm, until darkness crept in at 8pm.
Before the sun set, a fluorescent green dye was dispersed in the water to track which way the current may have taken Ayman.
A number of family members cried as police divers came out of the water, unable to search any more because of the darkness.
The search was scaled back during the night but a water police vessel was seen moving up and down the coastline throughout the night and it resumed at 8am on Monday.
-Sydney Morning Herald