Res­cue at Gorge

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

ISO­BEL Byrne will never for­get her first hol­i­day to the Far North af­ter nearly drown­ing in the Moss­man Gorge when she lost her grip on a rock and was dragged un­der in the rapids.

If not for Queens­land Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice’s ranger and tra­di­tional owner An­drew Solomon, who used his lo­cal knowl­edge of the swirling cur­rents in the gorge, she may not have made it out alive.

At 12pm on Tues­day Iso­bel and her fa­ther Dar­ren were swim­ming out in the mid­dle of the Gorge on hol­i­day from Avoca Beach, NSW, when the 12-year-old lost her grip on a rock and fell into the water.

“Me and dad went for a swim and I got caught on a rock but I couldn’t get a grip and kept get­ting swept back un­der,” she said.

“I got swept on to a rock but the rapids swept me off and over rocks un­til I got caught on a stick.

“Dad taught me never to panic in a sit­u­a­tion when you could do, so I got my head out of water and took a breath.”

She fi­nally stopped mov­ing through the rapids when her leg got trapped be­tween a sub­merged rock and a tree trunk.

It was then that Mr Solomon came to the res­cue with a rope he had in the back of his work truck.

Mr Solomon got in close enough to the water to throw the rope to the 12-year-old, who grabbed on to the rope and when he pulled, her foot came free and they were able to pull Iso­bel back in to safety.

An­drew ex­plained to the Gazette the rapids at the Moss­man Gorge tend to push to­wards the op­po­site side of the river and throw around and Iso­bel agreed: “I kept try­ing to get over to this side.”

Dar­ren said An­drew re­sponded quickly to their sit­u­a­tion, when his daugh­ter was in­stantly swept 50 me­tres away from him.

“An­drew was re­ally good, right there on the spot - I was amazed by the re­sponse,” he said.

“I was nowhere near her, she’d been swept away and was un­der, I spent a good 15 min­utes get­ting to the edge but couldn’t get to her.

“She fi­nally stopped and a tourist went and got An­drew who got the rope and be­tween the two of us we got her out.

“She’s been quite shaken by it and has learnt a valu­able les­son - al­ways re­spect the water and never panic.

“We’ve lived around the ocean all our lives but you could see some­one who doesn’t know the water could get caught easy.”

By the time the emer­gency ser­vices ar­rived around 12.20pm the whole or­deal was over and both fa­ther and daugh­ter suf­fered from scratched and bruised feet.

Iso­bel has a cou­ple of ex­tra bruises but is not scared af­ter be­ing swept over rocks, she jumped back into the shal­lows and made the most of her hol­i­day.

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