'Dedicated mum' and 'bubbly' kids killed in horrific highway crash remembered

The death of four children and their mother in a horrific crash in regional southern Queensland has left the community "heartbroken" and "speechless".

Hervey Bay mother Charmaine McLeod, 35, and her “joyful and friendly children" died in a head-on smash on the Bunya Highway near Kumbia, 220 kilometres north-west of Brisbane on Monday.

The children – Aaleyn, 6, Matilda, 5, Wyatt, 4, and Zaidok, 2 – have been described by family friend Skye Moore as "bubbly" and "smart" children who were always smiling.

"She [Charmaine] was a quiet person and she was so caring; if anything happened she would be the first person to help," she told Brisbane Times.


"Charmaine adored her children and I never saw her do anything for herself. She would never wear make-up or get her hair or nails done, she spent everything on her kids and they had so much.

"I will always remember her as a dedicated mother and friend. She was really involved with the school and she went to church every weekend, she was just a really kind person."

A GoFundMe page was set up on Tuesday night and raised more than $5000 in 14 hours.

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"With the passing of Charmaine and her babies Aaleyn, Matilda, Wyatt and Zaidok, we are raising funds to cover the cost of the funeral and associated fees," organiser Katie Harris wrote.

"Additional funds will be passed on to Youth in Search, a charity close to Charmaine's heart."

Tributes continued to flow on social media and the fundraising page on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Absolutely heartbroken to hear that this beautiful family is no longer with us, our street won't be the same without you all, my children will miss playing with these beautiful kiddies and their beautiful Mumma," Jenny Graham posted on the GoFundMe page.

"I'm speechless, have hardly slept, this is so sad, such a beautiful young family. The eldest child, Addy, was in my son's prep class last year. The mum, Charmaine, was the first mum at the school to make me feel comfortable [and] kindly show me the hall. She was such a kind soul, always smiling & chatting at school pickups," Kristie Xandy wrote on Facebook.

"I adored this family. Known them for years, watched the children grow up and worship God! I got the privilege to care for these children and a spiritual daycare mum for these beautiful children. My heart is so so broken," Tori Brooks said on the GoFundMe page.

The single mother was believed to have pulled out to overtake a truck and hit an oncoming truck, causing both vehicles to go "up in flames" upon impact, according to police.

Ms McLeod and three of her children died at the scene.

Paramedics ran through a sea of fire to treat the fourth child in the burning car, but the young girl later died on the flight to hospital.

The truck driver, a 47-year-old man, was released from Kingaroy Hospital on Tuesday. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries including burns to his hands.

There were reports the truck driver helped to free the young girl from the burning station wagon, but emergency services were unable to confirm these.

Kawungan State School principal Mark Jones said the community was deeply shocked and saddened by the deaths of Aaleyn and Matilda, who were students there.

"They were both joyful and friendly children who will be greatly missed by all their friends and teachers," he said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and sincere sympathies go out to the family, caregivers, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.

South Burnett regional councillor Ros Heit said the "very close-knit and loving" Kumbia community was supporting each other and the first responders who attended.

"Everybody is just shocked and horrified, it is a tragic waste of life and so sad. I can’t even begin to understand what this is like for [the victims'] friends and family," she said.

When asked whether she could remember an incident as tragic as Monday night's, Cr Heit said: "Not that I can recall. Every loss of life is tragic, but with young children, it is really terrible.

"The Bunya Highway is the main highway between Dalby and Kingaroy, there are a lot of trucks on it. It is a state-controlled road, but I don’t believe there were any maintenance issues."

Ambulance Service Assistant Commissioner Stephen Zsombok said paramedics faced a daunting scene, with victims trapped inside the burning station wagon and surrounding grass also ablaze.

"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 through that dangerous scene to get to the child they were able to work on … Unfortunately, that child died."

The Forensic Crash Unit was investigating.

Last week, six lives were lost during 48 hours on Queensland roads.

The state's road toll for the year has climbed to 83 fatalities. Near the end of May during the previous five years, the road toll was: 92 (2018), 86 (2017), 96 (2016), 95 (2015) and 83 (2014).

– with AAP