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14-year-old's screams haunt neighbour of burn victim

SHAKEN UP: Neighbour Allen Claridge at the scene where 14-year-old Isaac Stern was badly burnt in an incident at Sunrise Beach on Saturday night.
SHAKEN UP: Neighbour Allen Claridge at the scene where 14-year-old Isaac Stern was badly burnt in an incident at Sunrise Beach on Saturday night. Che Chapman

GUILT has been gnawing at Allen Claridge since Isaac Stern was found alight on Saturday night.

Mr Claridge said he had been replaying the moment he heard the 14-year-old's screams over in his mind and wished the incident had not coincided with Halloween.

"There was a death-defying scream which came from down in the reserve there and my girlfriend came running out and was freaking out, but I didn't think anything of it being Halloween," he said.

"Everyone's shaken by it, mainly because there wasn't any indication there was something wrong and we all put it down to being Halloween.

"When I thought back to what I heard, there was the initial scream and then it seemed to move down the street.

"I'm feeling a little bit guilty about it because I didn't go out to the scream to check it out. If it had been any other night, I would have been over there in an instant."

Police are still investigating how the teen came to be alight, but they do know once he was on fire he sought out the help of a 17-year-old girl who lived in a unit in a complex next to the reserve.

She is believed to be the girlfriend of the boy's older brother.

The young woman put out the flames with a garden hose, then got him into the shower to cool off while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Queensland Ambulance officer Mark Taylor, who was the first on the scene about 6.45pm, said the boy had not said anything about what had caused his burns.

The boy was taken by road to the RACQ CareFlight Rescue Helicopter base at the Sunshine Coast Airport and airlifted to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, where he remains in a stable condition.

READ: Police seek information about Halloween night fire victim

An elderly neighbour, who lives directly opposite the park, said she had heard a small group of people laughing and enjoying themselves in the reserve before the incident.

"I heard laughter and joy and then the screams started," she said.

"Often the young people come here and sometimes there's screaming and you never know if it's just fun.

"After the police left, there were three explosions over towards the school."

Officer-in-charge at Noosa Heads Police Station, Senior Sergeant Stephen McReight said he had never seen anything like this incident in his 38 years in the police service.

Isaac's brother briefly returned home yesterday but declined to comment on the incident, as did officials at St Theresa's Catholic College.

If you can help police, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333000.

Topics:  burn victim editors picks neighbour sunrise beach sunshine coast


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