A Brisbane community is united in grief after an unthinkable tragedy which saw a pregnant woman and her partner killed while walking their dogs, allegedly by a 17-year-old driving a stolen four-wheel-drive.
Katherine Jane Leadbetter, 31, and Matthew Philip Field, 37, died when the vehicle allegedly ran a red light, hit a truck and rolled onto them in Alexandra Hills in Brisbane’s east on Tuesday.
Witnesses and paramedics have been praised by police for their “incredible efforts” in trying to save the local couple, known as Kate and Matty, but they died at the scene from their critical injuries.
They had been together for at least four years and shared a photo of themselves at Christmas proudly showing off Kate’s baby bump and sonogram, surrounded by their pets and with a sign reading “Santa Baby”.
At the intersection in the city’s bayside area, where the pair tragically lost their lives while crossing the road with their dogs, dozens gathered for a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night.
Attendees were asked by organisers: “Bring your light to shine for those three beautiful souls lost to a senseless tragedy.”
One note left at the roadside memorial said: “You will be together in heaven and deeply remembered and honoured.”
Another said: “RIP beautiful couple and Bubs.”
Baby socks, teething toys and stuffed animals were scattered among the flowers and candles that ballooned throughout the day.
Two men were also seen on Wednesday placing a beer at the site and sharing one last drink.
Danielle Leadbetter said her “beautiful” niece, Kate, had been the flower girl at her wedding.
She expressed outrage at reports the teenager, who has been charged with a raft of offences including two counts of murder, was out on bail for driving offences at the time of his alleged rampage.
“Enough is enough,” Ms Leadbetter, who attended the vigil with her husband Jason, said.
“It’s 2021 and here we are again – two young lives are lost for a moment of thrills.
“Queenslanders need to get mad.
“No more loss of lives and no more families being killed because young offenders want a moment of fame.”
Police on Wednesday said the teenager may face a third murder charge over the death of the unborn child.
The 17-year-old has been remanded in custody until his next Children’s Court appearance. He is accused of being “adversely affected by an intoxicating substance” at the time of the crash.
‘IT HITS HOME’
Detective Inspector Steve Hollands, representing the Queensland Police Service at the vigil, said he thought it was important “to show our condolences to the poor victims involved and pay our respects to all the members of the public who intervened, provided assistance to the victims and located the offender”.
“I drive this intersection on a daily basis, my family do, my daughters do, so it hits home that road safety is really important,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said witnesses and the first emergency services workers “faced an incredibly catastrophic scene”.
“Despite the incredible efforts of witnesses and later QAS, both pedestrians died at the scene,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Mr Codd said Kate and Matty were “two people going about their business innocently on Australia Day, walking their dogs”.
“They should be entitled to do that, and to have them ripped away from their family is a tragedy,” he said, adding that their loved ones were “devastated by this loss”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a social media post overnight, thanked the first responders and witnesses “to this horrific accident who fought so hard to try and save their lives”.
“My heart breaks for the families and friends of Brisbane couple Kate Leadbetter and Matty Field who were tragically killed, along with their unborn child, when they were struck by an allegedly stolen vehicle last night while out walking their dogs,” he said on Wednesday.
“Three beautiful young lives gone in the blink of an eye. I cannot begin to imagine the grief their families are feeling.”
Mr Morrison said locals finding the couple’s missing dog Frankie in bushland was “some very small comfort”.