New Zealand rugby star in suspected murder suicide car fire in Australia

Police Line Do Not Cross

New Zealand rugby player in suspected murder suicide car blaze in Australia

Suspected murder suicide car blaze in Australia that saw man and three children die and wife escape 

A former promising New Zealand rugby player has died alongside his three kids in a horrific car fire that left his wife fighting for life after their SUV was set ablaze, in what at first appears to be an intentional act.

Rowan Baxter and his three children; Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey, all aged under ten, were trapped in the family SUV as it burst into fierce flames.

Hannah Baxter, the mother of the children, managed jumped free from the wreckage and was subsequently rushed to hospital with significant and life changing burns around 20.20 local time yesterday in Brisbane, Australia.

Witnesses reported heard Hannah yelling “he’s poured petrol on me” as she “rolled on the footpath in flames”, Local newspaper, The Australian reports.

Police confirmed that all three children have tragically passed away in the fire along with ex-New Zealand Warrior Rowan.

Detective Inspector Mark Thompson would not categorically confirm the exact cause of the blaze was started at this stage, however preliminary reports suggest it may have been started deliberately.

DI Thompson told reporters:

“How the fire actually occurred has not been ascertained at the moment, so for us to call it a murder-suicide or a tragic accident, it’s inappropriate at this stage.”

Neighbours ran out of their homes after hearing an explosion that sounded like “a gas bottle exploding”, one neighbour told The Courier Mail the mum’s skin was “peeling off her” as she held her hands up for help. “She was awake and conscious and completely aware of what had happened. It was really quite horrific.”

A neighbour who lives 20 meters from the incident said he spoke to several residents of the street: “According to them this vehicle that’s obviously burnt pulled up beside them and the lady yelled out, ‘he’s poured petrol on me’. Next minute, about four other explosions. Apparently there’s some young kids in the car. By that time you couldn’t get near the vehicle, unless you had a proper suit on, you were just no hope. Some young trade blokes down the road they came and out some timber or something to stop the vehicle going further because it actually rolled across the road from here to there. The young lady was rolling on the footpath on flames.”

Australian media, Courier Mail reported that Rowan and Hannah had been locked in a custody battle with most of Rowan’s recent Facebook and social media posts revolving around his love for his children.

Emergency services have confirmed that they are currently attending multiple locations being treated as crime scenes and the situation is in its early stages.

Bystanders filmed firefighters tackling the blaze coming from a vehicle engulfed in smoke on the residential road.

The burned-out car has since been covered in orange plastic sheeting as police and forensic investigators start their investigations.

A New Zealand Warriors spokesman said Rowan was in their NRL squad in 2005. He wished to add:

“Rowan didn’t play an NRL match. He was in our full-time NRL squad in 2005. He played in NRL trials”.

Queensland’s Police Minister Mark Ryan called the incident “horrific” and a “terrible tragedy” during his parliamentary briefing this morning after talking to the Police Commissioner.

He said: “The situation is at a very early stage and I am informed that police are investigating all of the circumstances surrounding this tragic set of events. Today is a very sad day.”

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About the Author

Caleb Simmons
Caleb Simmons | Journalist Since: 2003 | New York - Abu Dhabi - London - Barcelona