Heroic mum: ‘I just did it, there was no fear’
KINGAROY mum Fiona Simpson has been dubbed Queensland's bravest mother, after shielding her baby from vicious hail during a freak supercell storm which hit the South Burnett region on Thursday.
She has the injuries to prove it, with painful welts and bloodied bruises covering most of her body as she recovered at home on Friday.
Fiona had been travelling home from Nanago to Kingaroy with her grandmother and daughter Clara when the storm struck, delivering blow after blow of massive hailstorms.
Once the rain started they pulled the car over to the side of the road to wait out the wild weather, but Fiona said conditions worsened rapidly.
"It got heavier and my daughter was asleep so I wasn't too concerned, I thought it will pass, and then I hear this loud bang," she told media.
The rear window had been smashed by hailstones, leaving baby Clara exposed to enormous chunks of ice.
In a panic Fiona rushed to protect her child, climbing over the seats to shelter her from the storm.
"(I) climbed over the top of her car seat and I could see her, she was screaming, but I couldn't even hear her, it was so loud, and I held over the car seat for at least 30 seconds, I don't even know how long it was, it happened so fast," Fiona said.
The hailstones battered Fiona's back and shoulders as she took the brunt of the force.
Soon after, a second window was also obliterated by hailstones, showering Fiona's grandmother with glass.
She desperately pulled young Clara from her baby seat and placed her on the driver's seat floor while also trying to shield her grandmother from the terrifying onslaught from mother nature.
"The only safe place was on the floor. It kept getting heavier and heavier," Fiona recalled.
"There was no thought, I just did it, there was no fear... my seat-belt was off and I was getting in the back and there was no hesitation. Just survival instinct, like, when you are a mother you protect your child, no hesitation, you just do it."
The shaken trio were taken to hospital to recover from their ordeal, where Fiona's grandmother remains in a stable condition.
The storm began shortly after midday yesterday, with tennis-ball-sized hail falling at Kumbia near Kingaroy, tearing off roofs and even knocking birds from the trees.
Nearly 100mm of rain fell in some parts of the southeast after 9am on Thursday.
Schoolchildren in Kumbia endured winds and 7cm hail that smashed buildings before teachers called parents to come and get them early.
The SES last night had 250 call-outs, with 160 from Gympie, 50 in the South Burnett and 25 on the Fraser Coast.