Inquest hears ‘incredibly courageous’ Hannah Clarke assisted police despite severe burns

Mar 23, 2022
Hannah Clarke inquest has heard from first responders on the scene of the Brisbane family's death. Source: @smallsteps4hannah/Instagram

WARNING: CONTAINS DISTRESSING CONTENT

First-responders have recounted the chilling details of Hannah Clarke’s final moments on the second day of the inquest into the Brisbane family’s death.

The 31-year-old was taking her children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, to school when her estranged husband Rowan Baxter jumped in holding a jerry can and a knife before setting the car alight.

Off-duty paramedic Stephanie Ring recounted being on the scene minutes before firefighters, after coming across the distressing scene on her way home.

The inquest has heard that although Clarke had sustained burns to 97 per cent of her body, her main priority was the children.

“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?’” Ring said.

The three children died on the scene in the back seat of the car.

Clarke later passed away in the hospital.

One of the first police officers on the scene, Senior Constable Angus Skaines, told the inquest Clarke was determined to give a detailed statement, telling him Baxter said he wanted to see the children and “told her to drive.”

Skaines gave an emotional account and said Clarke informed him she had a domestic violence protection order against Baxter, and had told him: “Rowan’s poured petrol all through the car and set it on fire.”

“She was significantly burned and in a lot of pain,” he said.

“She was able to tell me a lot of details of what had happened.

“It was just amazing the things she was able to tell me and how much she was able to help us.”

Firefighter Anthony Eggins, told the court that upon seeing the car engulfed in flames he quickly realised “any persons inside were already dead” and had “no chance” of survival.

“There was no help for them,” he said.

“It was blatantly obvious that anyone still inside the car was not coming out.”

The court heard from the Medical Director of the Queensland Ambulance Service, Dr Stephen Rashford, who recounted the only part of Clarke’s body that wasn’t burnt, were her feet.

“I felt the priority was to anaesthetise her very early to take away any distress and pain,” he 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.

“I found her incredibly courageous.”

The inquest is ongoing, more as this story develops.

FAMILY VIOLENCE DISCLAIMERIf you are concerned about domestic and family violence in your family, friends or workplace, contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.

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