Police officer says 'mystery girls' saved his nephew's life
WHEN Sergeant Craig Law reached the scene of a call-out to Sunrise Beach last Saturday night, he found his nephew writhing in pain with skin melting from his torso.
The dog squad officer had been warned to expect the worst by his mother, who had walked outside to see what the screaming was about only to discover it was her grandson, 14-year-old Isaac Stearn, who is now in an induced coma in Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
Sgt Law said his nephew, whose father died three years ago aged just 34 from pancreatic cancer, faced a difficult recovery over the next two years.
But he said Isaac would probably be dead if not for the swift actions of two Sunshine Beach High School 17-year-olds he knows only as Layla and Amanda, who he intends to nominate for an appropriate State Government award.
"Without them, he wouldn't be here," Sgt Law said.
"I've been in many confronting situations. Faced with Isaac in blood-curdling pain, the calmness they displayed is beyond comprehension."
The pair hosed Isaac down, helped him upstairs to a shower and called 000.
Sgt Law said people didn't really appreciate what those involved in emergency services saw and dealt with regularly.
"They are all parents themselves,'' he said of the Queensland Ambulance Service team that stabilised Isaac before he was taken to Brisbane by the RACQ CareFlight Rescue Helicopter.
"They just went to work. Their response and actions were phenomenal. It was very impressive.
"The initial work done by the girls and then the QAS mean he will eventually recover well."
Sgt Law said Isaac's injuries were contained to his hands, arms, under his armpits, his shoulders and upper torso. His face was untouched and his respiratory system is undamaged.
He said the teenager faced skin grafts into the future and at least 18 months of recovery from the physical injuries and psychological trauma.
"The trauma and pain he was in was unbelievable,'' he said. "But the doctors said he was fit, which has helped, but burnt skin doesn't stretch.
"On the physical side, eventually he will heal.''
But the road ahead for the family is a tough one.
Isaac's mum Terri, who is Sgt Law's sister, will need support with the ongoing costs of physical and occupational therapy and potentially plastic surgery.
Hot 91 FM has started an appeal to help the family.
Police and the young man's family are still uncertain what led to the horrific incident.
Sgt Law said despite speculative reports that there were a large number of youths in the park who may have been letting off fireworks, when he and other police arrived on the scene there was no one around.
Detective Senior Sergeant Phil Hurst of the Child Protection Investigation Unit said police were working through a number of calls to Crime Stoppers but had yet to hear from anyone who had witnessed the lead-up to Isaac's horrific injuries.
The remains of Isaac's clothing are with the Police Scientific Unit in Brisbane, which will try to discover what started the fire.
Sgt Law said Isaac was receiving pain management and likely to be in an induced coma for at least two days.
The St Teresa's Catholic College, Noosaville, student will remain in Lady Cilento Hospital for at least the next six to eight weeks.
The college has offered counselling to its students.
Deputy principal Carmel O'Brien said sessions would be made available on a one-on-one or group basis to those who requested them, through the support of the Brisbane North Catholic Education services.
"We have also offered our support to the Stearn family as much as possible and will be engaged by their needs,'' she said.