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A highly regarded doctor tried to ‘reassure’ severely burnt mother Hannah Clarke she would wake up in a ‘better place’ after she and her three kids were set on fire by her estranged husband.
Ms Clarke, 31, and children Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, were killed at the hands of her ex-partner Rowan Baxter when he doused them in petrol and set them alight while they were in their family car in February, 2020 in Brisbane‘s south.
Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted knife wounds, and suffered burns to 80 per cent of his body.
One of Queensland‘s most qualified emergency medical respondents and medical director for the Queensland Ambulance Service, Stephen Rashford, gave evidence at an inquest into the murders on Tuesday, having treated Ms Clarke at the scene.
Mr Rashford described Ms Clarke as having an ‘essentially non-survivable injury’, having suffered burns to 97 per cent of her body.
Ms Clarke, 31, and children Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, were killed at their hands of her ex-partner Rowan Baxter when he doused them in petrol and set them alight while they were in their family car in February, 2020 in Brisbane’s south
The family’s burnt out car is seen after the tragedy. First responders have given evidence to an inquest into the deaths
The only parts not scorched were the bottoms of her feet.
One of Queensland’s top doctors who was at the scene said despite the severity of Ms Clarke’s injuries, he worked to ‘reassure’ her she would wake up in a ‘better place’
‘Unfortunately from time to time we see burns to that extent … it indicates that it’s highly unlikely you will be able to resuscitate the person in the long term,’ he said.
Mr Rashford said despite the severity of her injuries, his greatest concern was to ‘reassure’ Ms Clarke while he treated her at the scene of the crime which shocked Australia.
Ms Clarke was not ‘screaming in pain’, while he treated her, adding that in some cases those suffering severe burns can be ‘cognitively in tact’.
‘While I can prognosticate what the likely outcome is, it’s not the time to be saying we’re going to withhold treatment,’ Mr Rashford said.
‘We reassured her as much as we could, and wanted to basically say we would take any pain away and that we hoped she would wake up in hospital and be in a better place.
‘That’s always a very difficult conversation to have with anyone.’
He described the mother-of-three as ‘incredibly courageous’ and added after briefly speaking to her, he believed her pain was not her ‘primary issue’ amidst the horror of what had happened.
Baxter died at the scene and Ms Clarke died later that day after being taken to hospital.
Senior Constable Angus Skaines, another first responder, told the inquest Ms Clarke was ‘incredibly brave’ when he spoke to her just moments after the tragedy unfolded.
Despite the majority of her body scorched in the inferno, she was able to give Sen Const Skaines details of names and dates of births.
The inquest into the deaths of Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah 6, Laianah 4, and Trey 3, (all pictured) began on Monday
Rowan Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted knife wounds, and suffered burns to 80 per cent of his body
Hannah Clarke (pictured) and her children Aaliyah (left), Laianah (right)and Trey (middle) were doused in petrol by her estranged husband before being burned alive
‘It was just amazing the things she was able to tell me and how much she was able to help us,’ Snr Const Skaines said.
‘At a normal job even, people are so worked up they can’t get those details out.’
Baxter had told Ms Clarke ‘I wanted to see my children’, after jumping into her car and telling her to drive, the police officer said.
She had been on her way to school before the vehicle was set on fire.
The mother told Sen Const Skaines of a protection order against Baxter, and that he had tried to break her wrist two weeks prior.
Hannah Clarke’s father Lloyd Clarke was also at the inquest to hear the harrowing evidence. He said he was hoping the inquest would help determine how the system let his daughter and grandchildren down
Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley said the information given by Ms Clarke would have greatly helped prosecute her ex in the event he lived.
An off-duty paramedic Stephanie Ring, had arrived at the scene before firefighters did to see Ms Clarke’s car completely engulfed in flames.
‘She just kept yelling and crying and talking about ”my babies are in the car” … ”why didn’t I just stay in the car with them?”, Ms Ring said.
Ms Clarke’s father Lloyd said outside court on Monday that he hoped the inquest would determine how the system let his daughter and grandchildren down.
‘(So) they can put new procedures in place … so people won’t have to go through this terrible thing,’ he said.
The inquest before coroner Jane Bentley continues.
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Hannah Clarke’s only concerns were for her kids Aaliyah , six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three