A mother killed in a fiery crash with her four children posted a heartbreaking message on Facebook before she died.
Charmaine Harris McLeod, from the southern Queensland city of Hervey Bay, wrote on the page for her local church that she felt friendless and abandoned after leaving a relationship.
“I feel as if, if you cant or dont grasp God/healing etc, when they think you should have then you just get left behind,” wrote the 35-year-old single mother on April 15.
“You would think there would be support/help, but very very little, they were always too busy, not one piece of clothing or a piece of bread was offered, let alone shelter.
“I feel as if I’ve done it alone… these are the things Jesus did, he ate with the less fortunate.. I’ve asked for prayer before surgery & yes I’ve had a lot of surgeries but they dont, they do for others though.”
Ms McLeod died on Monday evening along with her children Aaleyn (Ally), 6, Matilda, 5, Wyatt, 4, and Zaidok, 2, after slamming into an oncoming truck while trying to overtake on the Bunya Highway near Kumbia in South Burnett.
Police said the “catastrophic” crash was one of the worst they had ever seen. Paramedics had to fight their way through flames and smoke to reach the vehicle, which was set ablaze along with the truck.
The doting mum and three of the children died instantly, while a girl was pulled from the car with horrific burns. She made it to Kingaroy Hospital in a critical condition, but died while on a rescue flight bound Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.
The 47-year-old truck driver escaped and attempted to free the family as their 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 spokesman.
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.”
Ms McLeod said in her desperate message that she had attended Bayside Christian Church for 17 years, and “asked for prayer”, but she had never fit in.
Commenters on the mother of four’s desperate post said the message was “very sad” and she was “crying out for help” for her family.
A church representative replied: “We have known Charmaine for over 15 years and provided many hours of support whenever she needed it. People were in contact with Charmaine right up until last week. Our door was always open to Charmaine whenever she needed help.
“We are now in the process of giving support to her family and the many people she knew.
“Peoples lives and situations arent always black and white. We were always reaching out to Charmaine and offering to help as much as she would allow us to.
“We spent many hours listening to and spending time with Charmaine. We organised professional counseling for her, which she was still regularly attending , we provided meals when needed, looked after her kids, prayed with her many times, visited her at home and the list goes on.
“It’s easy to say we could have done more, but honestly we were there for Charmaine when she needed us. We are all very sad and hurting with this tragic loss. Charmaine was a wonderful person with 4 incredible kids.”
The children’s father James McLeod, who had separated from their mother but was still in regular contact with the kids, revealed his son’s final words before his death.
Through tears, Mr McLeod told the Courier Mail that son Zaidok told him, “I love you, daddy”, during his last visit on May 18. “He was just a little adventurer,” said the grieving father. “A loving and kind kid.
“They were beautiful, intelligent, bright, smart kids.”
He earlier 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.”
Friends paid tribute to the family and offered their love and support on social media.
“I’ve never seen a single mum, let alone of four (children) give up so much for their kids and give their kids everything,” one Facebook post said.
“Those kids were something else I tell you, and lived like princes and princesses for their short life.”
Another read: “James McLeod I am here for you … sorry about your four angels.”
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 the pair 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.
Police said 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.
The forensic crash unit is investigating.