Truck driver’s desperate attempt to save children
EVERY afternoon the neighbours would hear the McLeod children play in their Eli Waters backyard near Hervey Bay.
Their laughter would fill the quiet suburban street and their smiling faces would press up against the fence posts as they greeted other residents of the street after school.
The split-second decision saw the family's Nissan station wagon collide head-on with an oncoming truck, before the two vehicles caught fire in a scene described by first responders as "very unsettling."
The driver of the truck, a 47-year-old man - who survived the crash - is thought to have tried freeing the children from the back of the car before emergency workers arrived.
A neighbour yesterday burst into tears as she told The Courier-Mail how she had waited for the McLeods to return home.
But they never did.
"They were just a normal family," she said through her screen door.
"She was a good mum. A loving mum and a good neighbour. The kids would play in the backyard and come up to the fence. They were just boisterous kids."
In a joint act of heroism, ambulance workers along with others at the scene were able to pull one girl out from the fully engulfed vehicle, however she sadly passed away while being airlifted to hospital.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Zsombok from the Queensland Ambulance Service said emergency services at the scene were confronted with a deeply traumatic event.
"Smoke and fire … officers have gone through a dangerous scene to get to the child that they were able to work on," he said.
"(First responders) explained the scene as tragic, extremely traumatic with people obviously involved in the car that's caught fire."
Ms Harris McLeod was a single mum who's been described as an amazing person who would do anything for her kids.
"I've never seen a single mum, let alone of four (children) give up so much for their kids and give their kids everything," a Facebook post from Skye Moore said.
"Those kids were something else I tell you, and lived like princes and princesses for their short life."
The woman, who has chosen to remain nameless, said she became aware of her neighbours' tragic fate when they didn't return home on Tuesday morning.
Tributes flowed for the family on the Kawungan State School Facebook page, where the two eldest siblings attended.
"We are deeply saddened by a traffic vehicle accident affecting the McLeod family from our lower school. We extend our sincere sympathies to their family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time."
Police are investigating and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.