Men recognised as heroes after dramatic rescue
TWO good Samaritans who bravely dived into flowing waters to save an elderly woman whose car had plunged into a creek at Chinderah have been recognised for their efforts.
Kingscliff fisherman Tyler Campbell and Lismore driver Matthew Brown were both awarded bravery certificates at a special ceremony hosted by the Tweed Byron Police District today for their efforts in helping to save the woman.
On August 26 last year, a 79-year-old woman was driving north along the Pacific Hwy at Chinderah when she veered off to the left side of the road and plunged into Boyd's Creek off the Tweed River.
Twenty-one-year-old Kingscliff local Tyler Campbell had taken his kayak out to go fishing and hadn't even cast off yet when he saw the woman's vehicle partially submerged in the water.
"I paddled up to it and there were a couple of people on the bank, my memory is a bit patchy but I was trying to find the right point to get her out as the doors were locked," Mr Campbell said.
"By that time, Matthew had jumped in and we were both grabbing her and trying to pull her out."
Lismore local Matthew Brown, who was driving behind the woman when the vehicle veered into the river, said he initially thought the woman was okay.
"I was sitting behind her on the highway and thought it was interesting that she was pulling onto an off-ramp, because there was no off-ramp there,' he said.
"She went straight into the water at 110km/h and I just saw the splash.
"By the time I got there and pulled over, Tyler was already with her, I was on the bank for a good two minutes because I thought it was all fine. I thought he's there, she's okay, but then someone on the bank said someone was still in the car so I thought I better go in.
"When I got there, she started to panic a bit and we noticed the car had started to sink. Tyler said we should get her out of the passenger side so we got her to lean her arms out of the passenger window and we pulled her out.
"It wasn't long after we got her out that the car sank."
The driver of the vehicle, who chose to remain unnamed, said she had been driving from her home town of Kiama up to Queensland when she became lost.
"I got lost and sneezed a couple of times and brushed the hair out of my eyes, the next thing I knew my car was sliding into the water, the doors were locked and the windows were up so I couldn't open them to get out, then I saw the water was coming in through the speakers," she said.
"I said God, don't let me drown in here."
She said Mr Campbell and Mr Brown managed to use their feet to push down the passenger side window and pull her out before the car sank.
"I saw my car go down with Italian shoes in it and all, I just looked at it and thought, well there it goes, there's the first car I've ever written off," she said.
The woman said she was "very, very grateful" for the actions of Mr Brown and Mr Campbell.
"If they had not been there and gotten me out of the car, then I think it would've been devastation," she said.
For their bravery, both Mr Brown and Mr Campbell were rewarded with Certificates of Merit by the Tweed Byron Police District at a Medals and Awards Presentation Ceremony this morning.
Mr Campbell said it felt "nice" to receive the award but it was not something he had been expecting.
"To get noticed is really nice, I hadn't really thought about it for a few months and then a letter came which felt really good," he said.
Mr Brown was equally humble about his award.
It's nice to be recognised but it's just something you do if you're a part of the community, you don't do these things for rewards, the reward is knowing we got her out because it could have turned out very differently," he said.
Both men said the woman was extremely grateful and had since sent them "lovely cards".
Tweed Byron Police District Superintendent Wayne Starling said the two men were very deserving of their awards.
"Members of the community, they start their day not expecting to save a life and at the end of that day they saved a life," he said.
"It doesn't just impact the person they've saved, it impacts the family, their friends and the wider community, it's a very special thing."