Mum res­cues man from sub­merged car

Waikato Times - - News - CAITLIN MOORBY

A mum missed half her kids’ sports day be­cause she was busy pulling a man from a fast sink­ing 4WD in a Coro­man­del river.

The 34-year-old mother of five had been drop­ping some boys off out­side the marae on Marae Road in Manaia, about 12km south of Coro­man­del Town, when she saw a truck in the Manaia River.

‘‘I just ran straight down the hill and jumped in,’’ Shirley Tukuhia Manukau said.

‘‘I could hear peo­ple yelling out and I could smell gas ev­ery­where, but when you see some­thing like that you don’t think – you just get there.’’

Manukau swam over to the truck and used it to keep her­self afloat.

‘‘The man was un­con­scious, face­down in the wa­ter in his truck.

‘‘He didn’t have much to go. It was past the sun vi­sor and the more it filled the more we got dragged into the deep.

‘‘That made me freak out and put me into over­drive to get him out faster.’’

Manukau put her hand through the win­dow and shook the man to wake him up.

‘‘When he be­came con­scious he didn’t know where he was.

‘‘I ex­plained to him he’d had an ac­ci­dent and his truck was fill­ing up with wa­ter fast. I told him he needed to come with me and I needed to get him out of the truck.’’

Un­able to open any of the truck’s doors be­cause of the wa­ter pres­sure, Manukau reached through the win­dow and pulled the man out.

‘‘His legs weren’t mov­ing, so he couldn’t swim.

‘‘I hooked my arm around his chest and neck and swam us out.’’

Af­ter half an hour in the wa­ter, Manukau reached the shal­lows and some on­look­ers came to help carry the man to the bank.

‘‘As soon as I saw the man breath­ing I left him in the care of the other fel­las and they stayed with him un­til the fire bri­gade and am­bu­lance got there.’’

Manukau had an ath­let­ics day to get to on that fate­ful day of Novem­ber 7.

‘‘I went straight there, but I missed half of it.

‘‘I got to see my daugh­ter do the shot put and dis­cus, but my youngest sons had fin­ished.’’

Af­ter ath­let­ics, Manukau had a shift at Whi­tianga Con­tin­u­ing Care where she is a health care as­sis­tant for peo­ple with de­men­tia, Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease and can­cer pa­tients.

Manukau has been taught first aid and CPR as part of her job.

‘‘In my field of work you’ve had the train­ing to know what you’re do­ing, but I didn’t ac­tu­ally think I’d be us­ing it in a real life ac­ci­dent.’’

She said it feels great to have saved some­one’s life.

‘‘It was scary, but in the heat of the mo­ment I was just fo­cused on get­ting him out.’’

Manukau hasn’t seen the man again, but hopes he is well.

Fire­fight­ers at the time said the man was prob­a­bly kept alive by a sliver of air in the top of the small Toy­ota 4WD.

The fire ser­vice ar­rived to find the man, in his early thir­ties, ly­ing on the bank.

The man lived op­po­site the river and had gone out of his drive­way, through flax bushes and into the river.

The man was taken to Thames Hospi­tal by road am­bu­lance.


Shirley Tukuhia Manukau and her in­spi­ra­tion Whi­tianga Con­tin­u­ing Care clin­i­cal man­ager and head nurse Robyn Glenny.

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