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The mother of three young children killed in a horrific car fire in Brisbane on Tuesday made a desperate attempt to help them after she managed to escape the burning vehicle.

Hannah Baxter escaped the car but her three children, Laianah, 6, Aaliyah, 4, and Trey, 3, were trapped in the back seat.

She repeatedly screamed "my children are in the car, save my children" to bystanders that were desperately trying to help, according to witnesses.

Former rugby league player Rowan Baxter originally from Tauranga with his wife Hannah and children at home in January 2020. Photo / via Facebook
Former rugby league player Rowan Baxter originally from Tauranga with his wife Hannah and children at home in January 2020. Photo / via Facebook

Ms Baxter, 31, was rushed to hospital but later died of her injuries.

Rowan Baxter, 42, died at the scene but not before trying to stop bystanders from attempting to save his wife and children.

It is understood police are now looking at whether Mr Baxter suffered a mental breakdown in the lead-up to Wednesday's ordeal.


From the outside, the Baxters looked like the picture-perfect couple.

They lived in a low-set brick home in Carindale with their three children — Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4 and Trey, 3. The pair shared a passion for fitness, which they turned into a business by running a Crossfit gym together in the same area.

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Mr Baxter grew up in Tauranga and was a contracted player with the New Zealand Warriors, although he never took to the field for the team. Ms Baxter was a trampoliner and gymnastic coach.

Mr Baxter regularly posted to social media about his family, gushing in the captions about his wife on her birthday and putting up old wedding photos.


The pair had married in October 2012 at Peppers Resort in Kingscliff over the New South Wales border.

"Happy Anniversary to my partner in crime xo love you always & eternally," Mr Baxter wrote on Facebook in October 2015, showing a beaming Ms Baxter in their wedding photos.

In 2016, Ms Baxter posted a picture from their wedding to wish her husband a happy birthday.

"We hope you have the best day," she wrote. "I know we drive each other insane at times, but I wouldn't be without you. Love you to the moon and back."


But by December 2019, Mr Baxter's three children had become the focus of his posts.

That month, Ms Baxter left the family home and would only return when she was bringing the children for a visit.


Child Safety had been aware of the Baxters due to Mr Baxter's escalating violence, according to The Courier Mail.

It is understood police had been called to a family violence incident in January, and the couple were working on custody arrangements.

Neighbours said Mr Baxter became reclusive in his former family home. He left the same clothes on the clothesline for weeks, and shut off from the outside world.

On December 30, Mr Baxter shared a photo with his three children captioned: "Goodnight my beautiful babies. Daddy loves you all very much. I miss you all."

Two days later, on January 1, he captioned a photo: "Goodnight ratbags always in my heart."

On Tuesday night, neighbours saw him coming home in a black SUV. The next day, they saw him drive away in it — but they did not know the horror that was about to unfold.



On Wednesday morning, Ms Baxter bundled her three young children into her SUV to take them to school like thousands of other mothers around the nation.

She was just pulling out of her parents' house when it's believed her estranged husband jumped into the passenger seat.

She drove, but then pulled over a street away, screaming for help.

It's believed Mr Baxter filled a jerry can with fuel at a local service station, before he doused the family with petrol and set the car alight, causing the vehicle to explode into flames.

Ms Baxter was dragged out, screaming "he's poured petrol on me" as her body was set on fire.

Mr Baxter tried to stop bystanders from attempting to save his wife.


Following the sound of the explosion, brave witnesses rushed over with hoses and tried to put the flames out. He shouted at them that he wanted to let his family burn.

Rowan Baxter with his son. Photo / Supplied
Rowan Baxter with his son. Photo / Supplied

One witness, Aaron Snell, said Mr Baxter looked furious that neighbours were trying to intervene.

"He was protesting to stop (us) putting it out," he told The Courier Mail. "He was so angry and just going absolutely crazy. It appeared like he wanted it to burn."

Local man Murray Campbell told reporters at the scene he "saw the vehicle in flames".

"It was just horrible," he said, "and the explosions".

Fellow resident Andrew Sinclair told Seven News "kind neighbours" went to Ms Baxter's aid.


"Someone was hosing her with a fountain effect," he said, calling it as an "awful situation".

Ms Baxter was pulled from the car, still on fire. She was taken to Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where she died hours later.

Emergency services were phoned at 8.30am after the attack. Police, firefighters and paramedics rushed to the scene.

All three children were killed in the car explosion. Paramedics attempted to revive Mr Baxter, but couldn't.


The horrific incident sent shockwaves around the nation.

In state parliament, Police Minister Mark Ryan said: "Today is a very sad day. I have just been informed by the Police Commissioner that three people have died, including children, in a horrific incident at Camp Hill this morning.


"Mr Speaker, my thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible tragedy."

A makeshift memorial of flowers and toys has been growing at the tragic site in the wake of the deaths.

Friends have paid tribute to the victims on social media.

"These beautiful kids will forever be remembered, my heart breaks for you Hannah," said one woman.

"You will be so missed. You were super mum," said another.

Where to get help:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.


If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.


If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.

• Run outside and head for where there are other people.

• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.

• Take the children with you.

• Don't stop to get anything else.

• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay


Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633

• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450

• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584

• Ministry of Justice:

• National Network of Stopping Violence:


• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent.

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