THE creek where Tahlia-Jade Bovero almost drowned looked very different yesterday to what she remembered from the night she thought she may die as her car filled with water.
The water levels had dropped considerably but rescuer Brett Leach pointed out the barbed wire fence and the post which had stopped her car from being washed downriver towards Dumbleton Weir.
She was "lucky" on a number of counts - lucky that Mr Leach took his son to check the creek level, lucky the electric windows in her car opened enough for her to push her way out, lucky her mobile phone would still work, and lucky that stepdad Chris Barfield had told her what to do if she got into such a situation.
Ms Bovero, who only got her licence a few months ago, said she thought she was approaching nothing more than a puddle.
"I thought I've got to get through this but I instantly started sinking," she said.
"I had to think really fast, because in a matter of five seconds my whole car filled up with water. It was over the top of the central windows, so I grabbed my mobile phone that was beside me, and by that time I was underneath the water.
"I didn't know how I was going to get out, but I remembered my stepfather saying you can't open the door when you're under water, so I needed to get out of the window. It shouldn't have worked but the electric windows came down a bit and I pulled myself out."
Her next challenge was trying to explain first to her stepdad and then to the 000 service what was happening. "He didn't really realise how bad it was, he was saying, 'Just get out of the car and I'll come and get you'," Ms Bovero said.
"Luckily (Mr Leach) came because I didn't know where the road was, or that there was a barbed wire fence behind me, it was like I was in a lake," she said.
Mr Leach told her she would have to swim to him and they then battled the current to make the short distance back to the road.
It was probably another 20 minutes to half an hour before emergency services and her stepdad arrived at Mr Leach's house, about 200m away.
"My stepdad got a shock when he saw my car in the creek," Ms Bovero said. "He just hugged me for about five minutes."
This young woman who was "lucky" on so many counts will now celebrate her 19th birthday on Friday before heading to London next week for an extended working holiday.
I had to think really fast, because in a matter of five seconds my whole car filled up with water.
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