Trying on the life jackets they paid for are (l-r) Barbara Worthington, Joan Kille and Kerrie Nelson with chief crewman Roger Fry (left) and crewman Jimmy Keough.
Trying on the life jackets they paid for are (l-r) Barbara Worthington, Joan Kille and Kerrie Nelson with chief crewman Roger Fry (left) and crewman Jimmy Keough.

A hero not just for one day

She saved the life of a 26-year-old woman in last year’s floods and now she and her family have helped ensure the safety of local Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crewmen.

In May last year Kerrie Nelson dived into a fast-flowing river to rescue a woman who fell in the water after trying to cross a bridge she described as “crawling with snakes” that were seeking refuge from the flood waters.

The woman had been in the river for several hours when Kerrie and her husband Glenn heard her screams from their Bexhill property.

They went to investigate and saw the woman clinging to a tree branch about 200 metres downstream. A strong swimmer, Kerrie reached the woman and held on fast as night fell and they waited for help to arrive.

Two men in a dinghy appeared, guided through the dark waters by a Life Saver Rescue Helicopter spotlight and they managed to get the woman into the boat and over to an ambulance, almost four hours after she’d fallen into the river.

“The water was very cold. The girl was hypothermic and in shock; she wasn’t talking much,” Kerrie said.

Weeks later, despite being the hero of the rescue, Ms Nelson and her mother Barbara Worthington and grandmother Joan Kille – both from Alstonville – decided to make a donation to the Life Saver Rescue Helicopter. They donated $2000 and crew chief Roger Fry said he knew straight away what was needed – new state-of-the-art life jackets.

“With the work we do, which often involves travelling over water, it’s important that our crew members are fitted out with top-quality life-sustaining equipment,” Mr Fry said. “We decided to use this $2000 to purchase three new US-made Switlik life-jackets which can carry emergency equipment like flares.”

This week Kerrie and her mother and grandmother visited the Lismore Helibase to see the jackets and try them on, although with Kerrie around, they’re probably one family that will never need rescuing.


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