Hero truckie back in ac­tion

Brave Lew leaps to the res­cue again


LEWIS Rowe has that happy knack of be­ing in the right place at the right time … a won­der­ful piece of luck for the peo­ple whose lives he has saved over the years.

In other cir­cum­stances it could have been some­one with­out the will and self­less­ness to know what to do in a cri­sis. It could have been some­one who hes­i­tated be­fore throw­ing them­selves into dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions. But that’s not Lew Rowe. As his wife, Leonie says, he is not one to hes­i­tate when it comes to help­ing oth­ers.

“He seems to know just what to do and does it,” she said.

Lew, who lives in Moorool­bark, Vic­to­ria, now works for Lin­fox as a truck driver and has been in the in­dus­try for 45 years. He re­cently won the Bridge­stone Bandag High­way Guardian award af­ter pulling a fel­low truck driver from a fire.

At the Septem­ber 25 in­ci­dent, near Hol­brook, on his reg­u­lar run from Tul­la­ma­rine to Tar­cutta, Lew not only pulled his fel­low driver through the wrecked wind­screen of his truck, but used his fire ex­tin­guisher to sup­press the flames be­fore mov­ing his own truck out of harm’s way.

At the time, Lew, along with other trucks, was at a stand­still be­cause of an ear­lier ac­ci­dent.

“There was loud noise,” Lew said. “I was sta­tion­ary. The truck rolled over and he came slid­ing along be­side me. It was in­stant, it just hap­pened. I pulled the wind­screen away and just as­sisted in get­ting him out of the truck.”

Lew’s only in­stinct was to go to the res­cue and he didn’t think twice.

“I knew he was in a bit of trou­ble,” Lew said. “He was a very lucky man be­cause the truck was ab­so­lutely wrecked.

“I turned around and there was an ex­plo­sion and I knew my truck was in the way so I thought I’d bet­ter go and get it.”

Lew was also praised for help­ing to keep the in­ci­dent to a sin­gle ve­hi­cle by get­ting his own truck out of harm’s way and pre­vent­ing the fire from spread­ing.

And about 30 years ago, Lew was driv­ing near War­wick in Queens­land when he wit­nessed a crash and saw a car plough into a lake.

“I just jumped straight in, there was no muck­ing around then,” he said.

Lew re­sus­ci­tated a woman and her child and was given a brav­ery award by the Queens­land po­lice for sav­ing their lives. It’s an award he has never picked up.

“I got them out, that’s the main thing,” he said.

All of this has been done with­out any first aid train­ing, only “stuff I learned at school”.

But for the full story of how self­less Lew has been through­out his life you have to go to his wife, Leonie, who said he might have picked up some life­sav­ing tips from the TV pro­grams he’s watched over the years.

“He just has this au­to­matic re­sponse, which is in­cred­i­ble,” she said. “It’s not some­thing I think I could do but he just seems to know just what to do. He just goes straight into it and then gets back in his truck and off he goes.

“An­other time a mo­tor­bike rider was thrown from his bike af­ter hit­ting a truck. Lew im­me­di­ately went to his res­cue. He had lost part of his leg and Lew had to use a rope as a tourni­quet to pre­vent him bleed­ing to death.

“The am­bu­lance driv­ers thanked him for his ef­forts and said he saved his life. He seems to just know what to do and does it.”

In his 45 years be­hind the wheel, Leonie said he’d had about three days off – in­clud­ing the time he spent in hospi­tal af­ter be­ing pinned be­tween a truck and a fork­lift.

“They put him into the hospi­tal and he was only in for the day and they said to go home and rest, but he just went back to work,” Leonie said. “He just en­joys his job.”

But when he fin­ishes work, Lew goes home to care for Leonie, who has been wheel­chair-bound since con­tract­ing sep­ti­caemia af­ter an ac­ci­dent in 2002.

“It went through my whole sys­tem,” she said. “My whole body shut down and they had to put me on life sup­port. I’ve been in and out of hospi­tal about 20 times.”

Af­ter fin­ish­ing his shift early each morn­ing, Lew pitches in to help Leonie in any way he can and take her any­where she needs to be.

“He’s al­ways here to help me, no prob­lem,” Leonie said. “I’m very lucky. He takes me shop­ping, any­thing at all. He’s a jack of all trades.”

And just to top it off, Lew is a great cook.

“Last week­end, he cooked a batch of about 180 sausage rolls,” Leonie said. “He doesn’t eat them, he just gives them away. He makes pasties and things like that.

“He just loves do­ing things for other peo­ple. You don’t get many that are like that any­more.

“Noth­ing is ever a prob­lem for him.”

Leonie, of course, was more than pleased about his re­cent award and his chance for a mo­ment in the spot­light.

“I was re­ally pleased that he was nom­i­nated for it and got it be­cause he de­served it,” she said.


COOL HAND LEW: Lew leaped from his truck (pic­tured with head­lights to cam­era) and raced to the res­cue.


Lew Rowe and his wife Leonie cel­e­brate his hero award at the Cas­trol Vec­ton din­ner in Melbourne.

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