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.