As a firefighter, Steve Buchan spends his days saving people from life-threatening situations.
But on Thursday morning it was Mr Buchan who was rescued - by the family cat.
Mr Buchan was hanging out the washing in his Thirroul backyard about 7am when he heard Shnookie the cat meowing at the back door.
He stopped what he was doing and went to let Shnookie out.
Seconds later, a four-wheel drive came crashing through Mr Buchan’s backyard, destroying the wall where he had just been standing.
With her humble meow, Shnookie had saved Mr Buchan’s life.
His wife, Renee, was woken by the noise, ‘‘like a freight train’’, and when she saw the damage to the wall - and the clothes line - she broke down.
‘‘My husband was at the clothes line and he heard the cat meowing at the door. He went to open the door and he heard this great big noise,’’ Mrs Buchan said.
‘‘He jumped inside and the bricks just came flying through.
‘‘I just collapsed when I came out and saw what had happened. There is a massive amount of damage.’’
The 4WD, which was travelling southbound on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, crossed traffic and crashed through the courtyard of the Buchan’s townhouse and into the yard of next-door neighbour Aspasia Misios, where it hit a parked car.
Ms Misios has been living there since the 1960s and her son Con told the Mercury that in all those years, they had never seen anything like it.
‘‘A lot of kids walk past here in groups, it could have been pretty serious,’’ Mr Misios said.
The male driver of the 4WD jumped out of the car, grabbed his backpack and ran off towards Thirroul train station, Mr Misios said.
For Mrs Buchan, it was a moment she will never forget. Despite the damage, she believes luck was on her family’s side.
‘‘The cat saved his life,’’ she said of her husband’s escape.
‘‘He’s a firie so he was so cool, calm and collected. He deals with this sort of thing every day.
‘‘He saw the man jump out of the car and take off down the street.
‘‘I’ve been hysterical all morning, just thinking of what could have happened.’’
The couple’s 12-year-old son Riley jumped down the side of his bed when he heard the crash.
After saving her owner’s life, Shnookie has gone missing, but Mrs Buchan is confident the beloved cat will return.
‘‘Something was on our side this morning,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ll have to buy a lottery ticket and some new pot plants.’’