Heroic cop saved elderly woman from raging river

Boats have been tossed about the Burnett River and its banks after the fury of the recent floods.
Boats have been tossed about the Burnett River and its banks after the fury of the recent floods. Ashley Cooper

HE MAY have been no match for the raging Burnett River, but there was no way Detective Senior Constable Jon Murray was going to let an 80-year-old woman stranded alone on a 9m yacht become its victim.

The steel-framed yacht found itself in grave trouble about 2.30am on Sunday, January 27, when the woman's 81-year-old husband fell overboard and vanished.

"It had been moored at Midtown Marina," the Bundaberg policeman said.

"It ripped from its mooring and it wedged in some mangroves down Quay St."

All alone and surrounded by the rapidly rising river, Det Snr Const Murray said the elderly woman was spotted standing on the boat's deck.

Despite safety concerns, Det Snr Const Murray made the snap decision to rescue her.

"We located a tinny which had been submerged in water," he said.

"It had no bungs in it so we put a stick in the hole to seal it up."

The quick-thinking officers attached one end of a rope to the tinny and, using an officer on dry land holding the other end, steered Det Snr Const Murray in the direction of the yacht.

Once he reached the yacht, Det Snr Const Murray secured it with remaining rope.

But things quickly took a turn for the worse when one of the ropes securing the yacht snapped.

"Then the lady couldn't climb over the railing," he said.

Realising it was going to be a two-person job, it was back to shore to pick up his colleague, Senior Constable Donita Stains.

When they reached her, Det Snr Const Murray lowered the distraught woman by one arm into the tinny.

"She didn't want to leave the boat because she didn't know where her husband was," he said.

Her worst fears were realised when the body of her husband was recovered at Burnett Heads later that afternoon.

The humble detective said his actions were not heroic.

"We knew there was a chance she could end up in the ocean - she was in serious trouble," he said.

"The decision was easy - she had to be taken off the boat."

The woman was taken to hospital for treatment.

Topics:  bundaberg police flood 2013 hero

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