Digger rescue

19/04/2014

Yesterday’s flooding in North Otago closed state highway 1 at Maheno and stranded scores of motorists, many of whom spent the night in school hostels.

The flood almost claimed the life of a woman who had to be rescued by digger.

A submerged fence appears to have been all that saved Roda Davidson from being swept away by the Kakanui River yesterday.

Mrs Davidson (61) spent two hours huddled on the roof of her car in the river before being rescued with the help of a 14-tonne digger.

The Fuchsia Creek woman was trying to get to work at the Oamaru KFC when she was caught in floodwater about 11am after the river burst its banks at the Five Forks bridge.

She misjudged the depth and speed of the water crossing the road north of the bridge. Her car was then dragged downstream by the swollen river before being caught in a fence. . .

Next, farmer Robert Borst tested the waters in his digger, before picking up Oamaru police Sergeant Peter Muldrew.

They carefully avoided power lines above the car which, although shut down, could not be guaranteed to be safe.

Mr Borst said the digger reached almost its maximum safe depth and he managed to get the bucket out to the car with the boom almost fully extended.

Sgt Muldrew said Mrs Davidson attempted to stand on the roof, but he told her to crawl over.

After sitting in heavy rain and a strong, cold wind for about two hours, she had difficulty getting into the bucket.

”I told her to lean over as far as possible and then I helped her to roll in,” he said.

Just as she got in the bucket, the helicopter arrived as back-up, but was not needed.

Mrs Davidson was helped to a St John ambulance, where she was treated for hypothermia.

If you click on the link to the ODT above you’ll see several  photos of the rescue, including this one.

Roda Davidson being  rescued on  top of her car after the flooded Kakanui River washed it downstream. Photos by Peter McIntosh and ORC Rescue Helicopter.

 


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