They said ‘goodbye’ – hero cop tells of miracle rescue
An elderly South Australian couple, believing they were about to drown inside a sinking car, turned to each other and said: "Goodbye", just minutes before their miracle rescue.
A heroic tradesmen who can't swim, and a courageous police officer, have told of their selfless acts to save the married couple from certain death in a freezing Victorian dam.
The holidaying pair were driving from Ballarat to Bendigo when their yellow MG sedan plunged into O'Keefes Dam at Creswick about 11am on Thursday.
Leading Senior Constable Simon Barker said they were trapped by seatbelts as water gushed above their shoulders.
"They were quite frantic, panicking. Both of them said to each other: 'This is it, goodbye'," he told The Advertiser.
"They thought: 'That's it'."
A tradesman driving behind the MG was first in the water after watching the car veer from Midland Highway, narrowly missing a caravan and parked vehicles, into the dam.
Wishing to remain anonymous, the 39-year-old told The Advertiser he flung off his boots and launched into the dam.
"It would have looked ugly, but I just tried to doggie paddle, arms and legs going everywhere," he said.
"As I was working to pull the door open the water was starting to come in a fair bit. The elderly guy was panicking a little bit, fearing for their lives.
"Supernaturally, I heard the door click. I pulled on the door and as soon as I did the water started rushing in. Within 30 seconds to a minute the water was at the ceiling height of the car."
After pulling the man, 82, to safety, the tradesman and Mr Barker went back for his 80-year-old wife, who was submerged under water.
"It was touch and go," the tradesman said.
Mr Barker said they reached over the woman's lap to release the seatbelt before she could be dragged through the driver's door.
"You don't have time to think, it's just actions take over. We were fortunate enough to get both of them out in time," he said.
"It was adrenaline driving us through."
The couple, from Hackney in Adelaide's inner east, were taken to Ballarat Base Hospital and treated for hypothermia. Both are in a stable condition, recovering from the terrifying ordeal.
The tradesman, who went to work after the incredible rescue mission, said: "The reward was saving their lives, I'm just grateful I was there at that particular time."
Mr Barker said others would have done the same.
"You just don't think you've done anything special, it was there and we had to do it," he said.
Police are investigating if the driver hit the accelerator, instead of the brake pedal, when pulling into the dam carpark.