Police in Queensland, Australia, are investigating the tragic incident of a mother and her four children who died last week in a roadside collision.
The incident at first seemed like a traffic accident, however detectives are now reportedly investigating the case as a potential homicide after they found a handwritten note and other clues at the scene which could suggest it was a deliberate act.
Charmaine McLeod and her four children, Aaleyn, 6, Matilda, 5, Wyatt, 4, and Zaidok, 2, sadly died when the car they were travelling in collided with a truck on the Bunya Highway, near Kingaroy, as they tried to overtake another vehicle.
The oncoming truck reportedly flipped over, before both vehicles burst into flames.
Emergency services rushed to the scene, but were unable to save the family. The driver the of the truck survived, though suffered injuries including burns to his arms, thought to be from trying to pull the mum and her children from burning car.
One of the officers who was first on the scene told News.com.au it was one of the ‘worst accidents I’ve ever seen.’
This is a catastrophic incident. It was a high-speed impact that caused the heavy vehicle to roll over and the woman’s car has caught fire.
The family were reportedly more than a three-hour drive away from their home in Hervey Bay. Charmaine’s husband James, who was not in the car at the time, has already questioned what they were doing so far from home, as they had ‘no relatives or family out that way.’
During the detectives’ investigation, a handwritten note was allegedly found about 200 metres from the site of the crash, which appeared to be written by Ms McLeod. While investigators are also concerned by the apparent lack of tyre marks on the road, which would suggest the driver did not use their brakes.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said:
This is just an absolute tragedy that’s almost too big for words when you lose a whole family in this way.
We now have homicide detectives working on this case where there is the potential for an intention for someone to die.
In the days leading up to the tragic incident, Ms McLeod had reportedly been struggling with the stress of being a mother to four young children, and felt ‘left behind’ by the church she was a member of.
An official cause of death will be determined by a state coroner, which could take several months.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.