Weather News

Dramatic flood rescue of 17yo driver found clinging to tree east of Geraldton

By Cecile O'Connor, Friday March 5, 2021 - 01:35 EDT

Emergency crews have rescued a 17-year-old driver whose vehicle was washed off a flooded road east of Geraldton and he had to cling to a tree in the river for several hours.

Geraldton-Greenough State Emergency Service manager Tom Wilson said the boy was lucky to be alive after the ordeal, which started when he drove into the Noondamurra-Greenough River crossing at speed.

Heavy downpours in the Midwest and Wheatbelt in recent days have seen rivers swell and many roads have been flooded.

He said the teenager told rescuers about his effort to escape the vehicle.

"He tried to get out the driver's door, broke the door handle on the way," Mr Wilson said.

"Then he managed to open up the passenger window and exit the vehicle that way."

Hours clinging to tree

Mr Wilson said the boy grabbed his mobile phone before leaving the vehicle.

"He got swept downstream a few hundred metres and managed to cling to a tree.

"He dialled triple-0 and we were deployed ? he had spent a couple of hours in the water."

Mr Wilson said rescue crews from Geraldton, Greenough, Northampton and Mullewa were involved in saving the young driver.

"Some units had to drive through a farmer's paddock to reach the river bank."

They then threw a rope to the teenager as he clung to the tree.

"He managed to put that rope around himself with some carabiners that we used.

"He is very lucky that a, he survived the initial impact and then b, was able to hang on for the couple of hours until we got him out and after that we just had to keep an eye on him, make sure he did not develop into hypothermia before we got him to the ambulance," Mr Wilson said.

He said drivers should be careful driving into water when they are unaware of the depth.

Mr Wilson said there were cones on the road to warn motorists of the risk.


© ABC 2021

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