that's life (Australia)
Cliff plunge terror – Rescued by my 5-year-old
After a day at the beach, Tamara’s world soon turned upside down Tamara Atley, 50, Invercargill, NZ
Soaking up the last of the afternoon sun, I watched as my kids, George, ve, and Emelia, three, splashed in the water.
Taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather in January this year, we’d spent a few days exploring our local beaches.
Heading back to the car at about 4pm, I promised George we’d stop by the Petri ed Forest for a short walk on the way home.
Formed more than 170 million years ago, it sat on a rocky coastline and was thought to have been home to dinosaurs during the Jurassic period.
We’d visited the popular spot several times before, so I knew to take the last road on the right. But after we’d travelled a kilometre down the narrow one-way road, I realised I’d taken a wrong turn and needed to do a three-point turn to get out.
As I started to roll forward, though, the tyres lost grip on the gravel and the front of the car began to slip dangerously close to the edge.
Before I had a chance to brake, the car suddenly plunged down the cliff face head rst.
After ipping on its side, it nally landed upside down on the tree canopy, several metres below the road.
Surrounded by the cliff face on one side, and thick, tangled branches on the other, the car was completely dark apart from a small beam of light coming through the back window that had cracked during the fall.
Thankfully, none of us had been injured, but as the car balanced precariously on the tree limbs, I knew we needed to escape as quickly as possible before we plummeted into the gorge.
George must have sensed that, too, because he was already out of his seat by the time I turned around.
But as Emelia dangled upside down in her booster seat, she began screaming in terror.
‘It’s okay,’ I said, reaching around to unbuckle her.
By then, George had already managed to climb out of the hole in the back window and was directing his little sister to follow.
Being a curvier woman, there was no chance I could escape the same way.
Emelia’s car seat, which was anchored to the back, also obstructed my access, meaning I was completely trapped in the front half of the car.
Desperate to call emergency services, I fumbled around for my