LIFESAVERS: (From left) Allen Petty, Glenn and Kerri Nelson and Ben Saunders with the canoe they used to save a young woman from drowning.
LIFESAVERS: (From left) Allen Petty, Glenn and Kerri Nelson and Ben Saunders with the canoe they used to save a young woman from drowning.

Cry in the dark sparks rescue

A DANGEROUS night-time rescue involving four Bexhill residents saved a 25-year-old woman from drowning in raging floodwaters.

Glenn and Kerri Nelson were feeding horses at their property in Greengates Road at 4.30pm on Friday when they heard a distant cry for help.

“I could hear someone yelling out. The next thing I knew, Kerri was running up the railway line, following the voice,” Glenn said.

When Kerri got to the old railway bridge, she saw a backpack and knew someone was in trouble.
 It appeared that a woman had fallen into the creek, which was swollen with floodwaters.

“I was calling out and a woman answered me. She said, ‘help me, I can’t hang on much longer’,”
Kerri said.

“There was only about 10 minutes of daylight left. So I just jumped in the river and swam down to where she was clinging to a tree branch.

“She said her name was Jodie and she’d fallen in and that she couldn’t swim. She’d been there for a couple of hours already and she was shivering and exhausted.

“I couldn’t swim back to the bridge with her, so my husband rang around and found someone who had a canoe to come and rescue us.

“I got Jodie as high as I could into the tree, so that she was out of the freezing cold water.”

Kerri and Jodie were in the water for about an hour before Ben Saunders and Allen Petty arrived in their canoe.

“We’d heard there was a need for someone with a boat, so we just decided to go and help,” Ben said.

“After paddling for about 15 to 20 minutes, we found them and put them into our boat. It was really dark by this time.

“Then we met up with the SES boat and transferred the young woman to them.

“At the time we didn’t think it was dangerous. We just thought, ‘we’ve got to go for it’. Someone was drowning.”

Kerri and Glenn have also played down their life-saving actions.

“I had total confidence in my swimming ability,” Kerri said.

“I’m a strong swimmer and do laps every day. I knew I’d be fine. But this poor woman, she was so weak and she’d been calling out for help for hours.

“I don’t know what she was doing out there. But she was lucky that the rest of us were there. It was a real team effort.”

Glenn is certain that the woman would have died if it wasn’t for his wife’s bravery.

“She would not be alive if Kerri hadn’t come along,” he said.

“I am so proud of Kerri. She didn’t even think about not jumping into the water.”

Jodie was taken to Lismore Base Hospital with a minor case of hypothermia and shock.

How has the wild weather affected you? Tell us your story below or send us photos via email at editorial@finda.com.au.

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