Father of four kids killed in crash speaks
THE devastated father of four children killed with their mother in a "catastrophic" crash on a Queensland highway has spoken publicly about the tragedy for the first time.
Charmaine Harris McLeod, 35, and her children Aaleyn, 6, Matilda, 5, Wyatt, 4, and Zaidok, 2, were killed when she was overtaking a vehicle and slammed into an oncoming truck on the Bunya Highway, near Kumbia, on Monday night.
The 47-year-old truck driver escaped and attempted to free the victims as the car was engulfed in flames but was unable to save them. He suffered burns to his arms while trying to help and was taken to hospital for treatment, according to a Queensland Ambulance Service.
James McLeod, the father of the four children, released a brief statement on Tuesday evening.
"I love them very much and they will be surely (sic) missed with all of my heart," he wrote.
"They were beautiful souls and were loved by all who knew them."
It's understood Ms McLeod, who lived in Hervey Bay, had recently separated from Mr McLeod, but was still in regular contact with the children.
Friends offered their love and support to Mr McLeod on social media.
"James McLeod I am here for you … sorry about your four angels," one person wrote.
Aaleyn and Matilda's classmates and teachers at Kawungan State School wrote on Facebook of their devastation.
"A terrible tragedy," one post read.
"RIP to Charmaine and her beautiful kids."
School principal Mark Jones remembered Aaleyn and Matilda as happy girls.
"They were both joyful and friendly children who will be greatly missed by all their friends and teachers," he said in a statement.
Paramedics had to fight their way through flames and smoke to reach the vehicle, which was set ablaze along with the truck.
They managed to pull out one of the girls who'd suffered horrific burns, but there was nothing they could do to save the others.
Ms McLeod and three of the children died at the scene. The girl pulled from the car made it to hospital but died while on a rescue flight bound for Brisbane. The truck driver was also injured but managed to free himself as the blaze spread to surrounding grass.
According to police, the woman was trying to overtake when her car slammed into the truck, which was travelling in the opposite direction.
Ambulance Service Assistant Commissioner Stephen Zsombok said paramedics faced a daunting scene, with victims trapped inside the burning car. "These are very seasoned officers and they've explained this as tragic, extremely traumatic with people obviously involved in the car that's caught fire," he said.
"Smoke, fire, our officers have gone though that dangerous scene to get to the child they were able to work on … unfortunately that child died. "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those people."
Police say the family was from Eli Waters at Hervey Bay, about three hours drive from the crash scene on the Bunya Highway at Kumbia, just south of Kingaroy.
"This is a catastrophic incident scene, it's certainly one of the worst accidents I've ever seen. It's just a tragedy for everyone involved," a police spokesman said at the scene.
The forensic crash unit is investigating.
- With AAP