Rescuer remembers: "We only had 30 seconds to spare"
MATTHEW Brown replays the car accident over in his head - "what if she'd veered off another three seconds later, she would have hit a tree... if Tyler and I both weren't there, she wouldn't have gotten out... if her window wasn't open ..."
These are the questions he continues to ask himself - but they were both there, and they did get her out, and Mr Brown, 46, and a passerby, Tyler, were able to save the life of an elderly woman who veered off the M1 near Chinderah into a channel last Saturday.
The St John's Woodlawn Catholic College religion teacher and his family, wife Janine and three teenage children, were on their way to the Gold Coast to celebrate a birthday.
They were travelling about 110kmh northbound on the M1 near Chinderah, when the vehicle in front of them veered off the highway and into Boyds Channel - a narrow inlet off the Tweed River.
"Initially, your brain takes a second to register what was going on.
"I thought 'there was no exit there', then we saw a huge splash, and thought 'oh my god, that car's left the road'."
Mr Brown clambered onto the steep, slippery, muddy embankment of the canal where he found the car floating.
A kayaker Tyler had also arrived on scene, and together they worked to free the woman.
Then the car started to go underwater - fast.
"I didn't notice the water temperature, because she was in the car, dazed and confused, saying 'please don't let me drown' so it was a matter of getting her out," he said.
"If the water started to come in through that window it would have pummelled her back and she could have been washed back into the car, it was just phenomenal timing ...he and I pulled her out together, with about 30 seconds to spare.
"On the day I was in a state of shock ... there was so many things that had to go right for it not to go tragically the other way.
"I'm just glad she made it, and I was in the right time and right place to be able to help.
"It restores your faith in humanity. There was a lot of people up and down the bank who stopped to help."