Mum rescues man from submerged car
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.