Chilling goodbye to best mate
WHEN Alex Opacic gave his best mate Ashley Pouladian a hug at her Sydney home 10 days ago it would be the last time he ever saw her - but he knew something was wrong.
Just hours later, she would be discovered dead inside a car with her mother and the family dog in an apparent suicide pact which was thought to be spurred by the death of their beloved sibling and son.
Mr Opacic now realises why he was invited to the family's home in Greenacre, in the city's southwest, that night. It was to say goodbye.
Other friends of the late 20-year-old student told news.com.au she texted and called them in the hours before she was discovered alongside her mum Sisi, 45.
NATIONAL 24/7 CRISIS SERVICES
"I had just heard from her Sunday night at 7pm, she was laughing at something I sent her and talking like everything was normal, but she would be gone less than 12 hours later," her friend Caleb Barry said.
However, Mr Opacic said something didn't seem quite right when he visited her on that haunting night.
"Ashley couldn't look me in the eyes. She couldn't hug me properly. I felt sick in the stomach when I got home," he told Daily Mail.
"I was at their house for six hours - I was the last person to see them."
The mother and daughter's bodies were found after neighbours noticed a disturbing message on their front door.
They were discovered in a black hatchback at the back of their property in what appears to be a suicide pact following the recent death of their 24-year-old son and brother, Pouya Pouladian.
The aspiring pilot died after post-surgery complications in March and his death took a heavy toll on the family who moved to Australia from Iran a decade ago to escape religious conflict. They also lost their father and husband around six years ago to cancer.
The popular 24-year-old sibling had been working long hours at multiple jobs to support his mother and younger sister as well as to pay for aviation training.
Mr Opacic said he believes Ms Pouladian may have decided to take her own life out of love for her mother.
"Ashley was trying to be positive - she's such a supportive person - and all her friends understand that she was in the car to be with her mother," Mr Opacic told the Mail.
"She did not want to die, she was so excited to go back to university and finally move past it (her brother's death)."
Before her death, the popular University of Technology Sydney student was studying medical science and hoped to one day become a dentist.
One of her lab partners, Zoe Bee told news.com.au Ms Pouladian was visibly shaken by the death of her brother.
"(She was) a very beautiful, funny, young girl who had to deal with a tough situation," she said. "It would have been horrible for anyone to have to deal with."
Mr Opacic posted a heartbreaking tribute to his best mate on Facebook in the days that followed her death.
"The aim of this post is to show the world who Ashley Pouladian truly was," he wrote in a post filled with joyous pictures of the smiling young student.
"A beautiful person inside and out, extremely loyal with a strong heart whose life changed due to the immense loss that her family suffered. Love you always Ashley Rest Peacefully."
Neighbours have described how the family, who used to appear happy, became withdrawn after Mr Pouladian's death and how they conducted regular welfare checks on them.
The family's next door neighbour said he saw the mother and daughter on the weekend before they were discovered dead, busily tidying the yard and making the house spotless.
Mr Pouladian's mate Pilar Mempin has now written a GoFundMe page that Sisi had "devoted her life to raising two wonderful children" after the death of her husband.
"(Sisi) was a selfless person who always put everyone before herself, dedicating her time to helping others, which included giving food to the homeless," she wrote.
"She also loved to garden and grew her own vegetables in their backyard. She treated everyone in her life as if they were her family."
The page has raised more than $20,000 to cover the cost of the pair's funeral service.
"Ashley was a dedicated, young woman who was truly beautiful inside and out and always wore a gorgeous, infectious smile," Ms Mempin wrote.
"After the loss of her father, she was always there for Sisi and spent most of her time with and looking out for her and I can honestly say they were the best of friends.
"I hope that if someone who reads this and is thinking there is no other way or feels that it is not worth going on, that they know there is always someone in your life who you can talk to. There is no shame in asking for help - it is OK to not be OK."
At the time of her brother's death, Ms Pouladian posted a heartbreaking message on her Facebook page to break the news.
"Due to … unforeseen events post-operation, my 24-year-old brother, Pouya Pouladian, passed away a few days ago," she wrote on March 9.
"He was an amazing and hardworking person who never failed to care deeply for my mother and I. He was truly our inspiration in life.
"Words cannot describe what an angel he was. Rest easy Captain Pouya."
A NSW Police spokeswoman told news.com.au police was investigating the deaths in Greenacre - but they are not thought to be suspicious.