Freak thunderstorm asthma: Teen farewelled on day he was meant to graduate

By MONIQUE HORE, Herald Sun, THERESE ALLAOUI, CASSIE ZERVOS AND TOM MINEAR

The deaths of at least four Victorians will be probed in a review into Monday's freak thunderstorm asthma crisis as others continue to fight for life.

Nobel Park father-of-two Clarence Leo, who is remembered as having "the biggest heart", died early on Tuesday morning.

It is understood the circumstances surrounding his death will be investigated along with those of Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, high school student Omar Moujalled, 18, and law student Hope Carnevali, 20.

Omar, 18, was days away from graduating high school. Picture: GoFundMe
Omar, 18, was days away from graduating high school. Picture: GoFundMe

Melbourne hospitals confirmed that at least eight people remain in intensive care.

Mr Leo suffered severe chest pains on Tuesday morning and, after running out of Ventolin, was rushed to his mother-in-law's house who also battles the respiratory condition.

Clarence Leo, pictured with wife Amanda Leo, died on November 22 as part of the "thunderstorm asthma" event. Picture: GoFundMe
Clarence Leo, pictured with wife Amanda Leo, died on November 22 as part of the "thunderstorm asthma" event. Picture: GoFundMe

But his wife, Amanda, said her husband was unconscious by the time she pulled into the driveway where she performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

"He has had asthma before, but I have never seen him that bad, I've never seen him like that," she said.

"All I've been telling people is please learn CPR, because if I hadn't had CPR training, I would not have been able to keep him going until paramedics got there."

Mrs Leo said she and her "beautiful" daughters, Layla, 9, and Eve, 7, were devastated.

Student Omar Moujalled, 18, was farewelled at Meadow Heights Mosque today on the day he was meant to graduate from high school.

A fundraising campaign has been started to build a well in his honour.

Epping stainless-steel engineer Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, also died.

Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, died during the storm. Picture: Supplied
Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, died during the storm. Picture: Supplied

Paramedics unsuccessfully attempted to revive him formore than 50 minutes, a friend said.

His younger sister, Bianca Becker, described her brother as "the most loving and caring person in my life".

"Apollo was always the life of the party," she said.

"I've received more than 500 messages over the last 24 hours, so many people loved him and will miss him."

Law student Hope Carnevali, 20, died in the arms of family as she waited for an ambulance on the front lawn of her Hoppers Crossing home.

Hope Carnevali died from an asthma attack on Monday. Photo: Facebook
Hope Carnevali died from an asthma attack on Monday. Photo: Facebook

The Inspector-General of Emergency Management will lead the statewide review of the emergency response to determine if public health warnings should have been issued ahead of Monday's perfect storm.

It will also examine whether health authorities, the ambulance service and hospitals stepped up their response to cope with thousands of Victorians struggling to breathe.

An alert system, possibly through Deakin and Melbourne universities' pollen count and forecasting websites, will also be considered.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said Victorian health services had an obligation to learn from this emergency of "unprecedented scale".

"This review will make sure that should this, or an event of similar scale, ever occur again, we have the right systems, measures and resources in place to provide the best response," she said.

Ambulance Victoria boss Tony Walker confirmed an internal review was under way, with the findings to be provided to the Inspector General for Emergency Management.

A final report from the review is expected in April.

An extremely rare and dangerous phenomenon called "thunderstorm asthma" saw Melbourne run out of ambulances for an entire hour. Photo / Matthew Wu, Twitter
An extremely rare and dangerous phenomenon called "thunderstorm asthma" saw Melbourne run out of ambulances for an entire hour. Photo / Matthew Wu, Twitter

Grandfather revived in hospital doorway

A grandfather is fighting for life in a coma after being resuscitated at the doorway of the Northern Hospital during Monday's thunderstorm asthma crisis.

Dr Munawat Hussein was dead for several minutes as his daughter frantically drove him from their Broadmeadows home to the hospital before dragging him out of the car in front of the main entrance where bystanders and emergency staff were eventually able to restart his heart in the carpark.

After several desperate calls for an ambulance, Zainab Hussein says she was told it would be a two-hour wait for paramedics, so she dragged her father to the car with her babies where he had a cardiac arrest just 30 seconds later.

"I know they were inundated with calls, but they said it could take up to two hours because they had no ambulances. I said: 'He will be dead by then'," Ms Hussein said.

"On the way to the hospital, I was banging on his chest and driving so fast, you can't even imagine.

"I dragged him out on to the car park floor outside the main entrance and one of his patients had seen him and started CPR on the floor. All the emergency staff came out and they tried to revive him with no luck.

"They eventually got a slight heartbeat, then he had another cardiac arrest. The CPR wasn't working and even the defibrillators were not working straight away, then they revived him again he had a slight heartbeat and now he is in a coma."

In a shocking twist, Dr Hussein's wife is the head teacher at Australian International Academy - the school attended by 18-year-old Omar Moujalled who died from an asthma attack during the thunderstorm asthma crisis.

Last night, Dr Hussein was still in a critical conditions and unable to breath on his own, but his family was heartened when he squeezed his son's hand yesterday afternoon.

"It is amazing considering he was without oxygen for quite a while," Ms Hussein said.

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