WATCH: Incredible rescue of woman from Fitzroy River drain
Clifford Saunders was in the right place, at the right time to prevent a woman’s potential drowning on Friday evening.
The Rockhampton man was fishing from the bank of the Fitzroy River along Quay Street when he noticed a woman, who appeared intoxicated, stumbling along the footpath.
“She was staggering pretty bad and I didn’t take my eyes off her,” Mr Saunders said.
“I don’t know if she laid down or she tripped over, but she was laying down asking for her phone and I walked over to check on her.
“As soon as I walked away, she must have tried to get up and slipped off the edge into the water.”
The woman, understood to be aged in her 50s, had fallen 10-15 metres down into a concrete drain that feeds into the Fitzroy River below the city’s flood marker.
With the tide incoming, darkness falling and no way of reaching the woman, Mr Saunders quickly dialled triple-0 and a full-scale rescue mission was launched.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services station officer David Sealy said crews were called at 5.20pm and arrived to find the woman laying on a ledge in the water.
He said a Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic was able to reach the woman and assess her for any injuries.
QFES officers, with the assistance of the Queensland Police Service officers and a member of the public then used a pulley system to rescue the woman.
“Our technical rescue people put together some road rigging systems to be able to bring her back up to the waiting ambulance,” Mr Sealy said.
“It’s good that all of the emergency services come together and work in these times; it’s good to see.”
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said the woman was transported to Rockhampton Hospital in a stable condition.
Mr Saunders said it was an eventual end to his fishing trip and that the emergency services did a ‘bloody good job’ rescuing the woman.
The situation hit close to home for Mr Saunders, as he had been the victim of a similar incident himself.
“I’ve actually been in that situation but not in a drain pipe,” he said.
“I was drinking down between the old bridge and the new bridge. I was listening to music down on the river on a big concrete slab on the rocks.
“My hat blew off my head and when I went to grab it I slipped on the rocks, popped my shoulder out and knocked myself out.
“It was about 10 minutes later that the high tide had come in and a couple of blokes found me face down in the water. They said I was passed out and I had swallowed a bit of water.
“I would have been croc bait, same as aunty there.”