Relatives 'exhausted themselves' helping wife escape 'monster' before car fire death

The sister-in-law of a mother who died hours after her three young children were killed in a Brisbane car fire has lambasted the husband she described as a “monster” who also died in the horrific incident.

Hannah Baxter’s sister-in-law took aim at Rowan Baxter, the father of Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, who died in the car fire at Camp Hill on Wednesday morning.

Mr Baxter, 42, also died in the incident, while Ms Baxter, 31, died in hospital on Wednesday night.

“As you may be aware my beautiful sister in-law and my nieces and nephew had their lives taken by a disgusting human being they called their father,” Stacey Roberts wrote on a Facebook fundraising page set up for Ms Baxter and her children.

She explained how Ms Baxter’s parents and family members had “exhausted themselves” to help the mother escape “this monster”.

Hannah Baxter with her husband Rowan and their three young children. Source: Facebook
Hannah Baxter with her husband Rowan and their three young children. Source: Facebook

Ms Roberts went on to pay tribute to Ms Baxter and her young children.

“For all those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was, her children were her life,”

“All she ever wanted was happiness. Her children were only a reflection of her.

“Gorgeous, happy kids who held a massive piece in my heart, and I’m sure many others because that’s exactly what they were like.

“We will miss them all more than anything.”

Witnesses recall ‘horrific’ incident

Several witnesses have since recalled the events that led to the five deaths, describing a scene of horror as raging flames engulfed the family’s SUV.

Bystanders in the quiet suburb of Camp Hill describe seeing Mr Baxter jump into the vehicle as Ms Baxter set off for the children’s school and set it alight, The Courier Mail reported.

Leaving the vehicle, Mr Baxter returned to the vehicle before plunging a knife into his chest, according to witness Aaron Snell.

Investigations at the scene following the incident at Camp Hill, Brisbane. Source: AAP
Investigations at the scene following the incident at Camp Hill. Source: AAP

“He jumped into the full flaming car, into the front seat to grab a knife. He stabbed himself in the chest,” he told The Courier Mail.

“That’s when he’s dropped to his knees and went down head first, then he jumped up again, and then he fell flat.”

At the same time horrified neighbours were rushing to the aid of Ms Baxter, who was screaming for help.

Neighbours report hearing her shout: “He’s poured petrol on me”.

She managed to escape the car however was enwrapped in flames.

Neighbour Andrew Sinclair said he saw Ms Baxter standing in the road with skin coming off her badly burnt body.

“The pain she would have been suffering mentally and physically – she was conscious during this time – would have been horrific,” he told the Today show on Thursday morning.

Hannah Baxter pictured at the beach with her son Trey. Source: Facebook
Ms Baxter with her son Trey. Source: Facebook

Witnesses say Mr Baxter became angry as they rushed to the car to try and save those inside.

“He was protesting to stop (us) putting it out,” Mr Snell said. “He was so angry and just going absolutely crazy. It appeared like he wanted it to burn.”

One neighbour is being hailed a hero among residents as she rushed from her home with a hose and tried to extinguish Mr Baxter.

“I don’t know who she is but it was a great act of kindness and that woman is a champion of our neighbourhood for doing that while being confronted with everything,” Mr Sinclair said.

Tributes flow in for mother and children

Dozens of tributes have poured in for Ms Baxter after it was confirmed by Queensland Police she succumbed to her extensive injuries in hospital on Wednesday evening.

Friend Samantha Tone took to Facebook late on Wednesday mourning Ms Baxter’s death.

“We have had so many laughs and good times,” she said.

“Your aura would bring light and happiness to any room you were in. You will be so missed.

“I will cherish these memories dearly and I promise to love my babies as much as you did yours. I idolised you as a mother, you were a super mum.”

Ms Baxter pictured with her three children and another relative. Source: Facebook
Ms Baxter pictured with her three children. Source: Facebook

On Ms Roberts’ fundraiser one woman described Ms Baxter as “full of life, energy and laughter”.

The fundraiser has so far generated $20,000.

On Wednesday Detective Inspector Mark Thompson told reporters the incident was one of the worst he’d attended during his career.

"I've seen some horrific scenes - this is up there with some of the best of them. It's a terrible thing to be presented with,” he said.

Yahoo News Australia understands police are investigating the incident as a potential murder suicide, but on Wednesday had not ruled out the possibility that it was an accident.

The Baxters owned a fitness business called Integr8 and are believed to have separated before Christmas last year.

Ms Baxter and her children had moved out of their family home and were living with her parents.

The family was not involved in any Family Court or Federal Court proceedings.

Mr Baxter was a member of the New Zealand Warriors NRL squad in the mid-2000s but did not play a first-grade game. His estranged wife Hannah was a trampolining champion.

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