In Brief

Camp Hill: police investigate ‘horrific’ car fire that killed family

Brisbane police refuse to rule out murder-suicide involving ex-rugby league player

A family including three young children were killed in what police have called a “horrific” car fire in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs on Wednesday.

Rowan Baxter, an ex-rugby league player, his wife Hannah and their children aged three, four and six died after the car they were travelling in caught alight, according to police.

Hannah Baxter, who was driving, reportedly jumped from the vehicle. She was taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in a critical condition but died from her injuries. Her husband and children died at the scene.  

Paramedics also treated a passer-by who had “tried his best to get to the car” and suffered some “facial burning” in the process, the BBC reports.

The Guardian reports that a major crime scene has been established around the area, adding that while police have yet to comment on the cause of the blaze, multiple news sources have reported witness accounts stating that Hannah Baxter had jumped from the car shouting: “He’s poured petrol on me”.

Hannah and Rowan Baxter worked as fitness instructors and ran a Brisbane gym named Integr8 Fitness, The Independent reports. The newspaper adds that one employee at Integr8 said the gym was “closed down before December with Mr and Ms Baxter undergoing a marriage separation”.

In recent months Rowan Baxter, who was a winger with rugby league team New Zealand Warriors, had regularly posted photos and videos of his three children, with one post published on 30 December containing the caption “I miss you all”.

On Wednesday morning, Det Insp Mark Thompson stated that the cause of the fire was currently unclear, but refused to confirm that police had ruled out a possible murder-suicide.

“How the fire actually occurred has not been ascertained at the moment,” he said. “For us to call it a murder-suicide or an accident is not appropriate at the moment.”

Thompson said it was one of the most disturbing scenes he had attended.

“It's a horrific scene,” he told reporters. “It will be a horrific thing for police and emergency services to deal with in the coming days.”

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