Bravery in an icy river
Senior Constable Scott Quate said he didn’t think twice before jumping in to a freezing, fast-flowing river to try and save two people while off duty in Cambridge.
The officer was last week presented with the Police Association’s Bravery Award at its annual conference in Wellington.
On August 19, 2017, Scott was driving with his partner and baby to Cambridge, when traffic came to a standstill on the Fergusson Bridge spanning the Waikato River.
A car had crashed through the barrier and into the fast-flowing river.
Scott, from Napier, was due to meet his brother for coffee when he stopped his car, ran down the bank and made a daring rescue.
A man was screaming for help in the water, while an unconscious woman was floating face up.
Scott was off-duty but said he didn’t hesitate to scramble down a 10m slope fully clothed and wade in to the deep, freezing water.
“It was just a case of getting across the other side and down the bank and in as fast as I could.
“Lucky there was a branch nearby I could cling to at the same time and just hold everyone afloat until someone threw a rope to us.”
Scott worked to keep himself and the unconscious woman clear of the water while trying to calm the man, who was becoming fatigued and distressed.
A tow rope from a truck was lowered to the trio by members of the public, and emergency services helped drag them to shallow water. Scott immediately began giving the woman CPR and succeeded in clearing water from her lungs. She was taken to hospital but died two days later.
Scott’s partner and toddler were waiting nearby and were relieved when he was safely back on land, exhausted and freezing but mostly unharmed, except for a bruised and rope-burned arm.
The police investigation team said the rescued man, in his mid 60s, would almost certainly have died in the freezing and turbulent waters if it was not for the police officer’s actions.
Police Association President Chris Cahill said he was tremendously proud to be associated with the officer who performed so outstandingly.
“Such valour and determination, done without thought for his own safety, is why Scott is the recipient of this year’s Police Association Bravery Award.”
Off-duty policeman Scott Quate was presented with the Police Association’s Bravery Award for rescuing a man and woman from a vehicle that plunged into the Waikato River in Cambridge last year.