Sight that overcame hero truckie
THE fireball in front of Mark was a B-double truck, skidding on its side, tonnes of momentum grinding up the bitumen and dirt.
He braked his own rig hard, jumped out of the cabin, dropped his phone and ran, panic and focus together. He'd seen fatal crashes before. He knew what to expect - and he prepared himself as he ran towards the mangled car, most of its roof torn off.
And that's when he saw it: a child's toy, a zebra, lying in the dirt. When he thinks back to that night, it's the zebra he remembers. The moment he realised he wasn't prepared for what he was about to see.
"This is not the first time I've been first on the scene to a fatality," said Mark, a truckie who travels 250,000km a year.
"It wasn't until I ran past that stuffed zebra that it struck me that there could be kids. So that was the moment. And then, in my periphery, I noticed the scene. And it all came into focus. The teddy bear over there. The kids blankets everywhere. It was kids' stuff. Just kids' stuff."
This was the night Queensland mother Charmaine Harris McLeod and her children Aaleyn, 6, Matilda, 5, Wyatt, 4 and Zaidok, 2, died.