Moruya flood rescue: driver speaks out

The man rescued along with his family from rising floodwaters south-west of Moruya on Tuesday has spoken of his gratitude to his rescuers, of the public reaction and of the ordeal itself.

Will Douglas has copped a barrage of criticism on social media for his decision to attempt to cross Burra Creek at Wamban, which led to a dramatic rescue via the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue helicopter, into which the family was winched up from the roof of their rapidly submerging four-wheel drive.

The group awaiting rescue from their flooded car.  Photo: Supplied

The group awaiting rescue from their flooded car. Photo: Supplied

While admitting responsibility for the matter he believes much of the criticism is unfair and comes from people not knowing the circumstances.

The photos which appeared on social media and in newspapers were taken long after the vehicle was trapped, making the attempt look much more foolhardy, but Mr Douglas, a teacher at Moruya High School, said the water was only 800 to 900mm high when he drove into it.

"As the driver, I take responsibility; I made the mistake," he said.

"It was not foolhardy; it was a calculated risk."

The rescue effort underway at Moruya. Photo: Courtesy SES

The rescue effort underway at Moruya. Photo: Courtesy SES

He was with his wife, daughter and son when they got stuck in the creek on their way to Moruya at about 7.50am.

"The water had washed away the gravel underneath and was rushing faster than I have ever seen it in the 14 years we have lived here," he said.

Mr Douglas' 17-year-old son Sean exited the vehicle first, gaining the attention of a neighbour, who alerted emergency services and got a rope out to the vehicle.

"I attempted to get to the shore but after some dunkings I quickly became hypothermic," he said.

The group is plucked to safety by the rescue helicopter.  Photo: Supplied

The group is plucked to safety by the rescue helicopter. Photo: Supplied

This made him more helpless and the remaining family members decided to stay in the vehicle.

"It was a lesson that you should not underestimate how quickly hypothermia can settle in," he said.

He spoke of the criticism of the family on social media.

"There has been a lot of rubbish on Facebook with people calling us irresponsible when they don't even know us or that we have crossed that creek twice a day for the past 14 years," he said.

"I've told my children that if it is upsetting, don't go on Facebook."

Mr Douglas said the reaction from those who do know him has been better.

"All the kids at Moruya High School have been really nice; it has been a lovely reception," he said.

He said he had an "enormous measure of appreciation" for the Westpac Helicopter, SES, ambulance and police personnel who came to his family's rescue.

"They were courageous, well-trained and very professional and I am very, very proud of the community," he said.

"You pay your taxes and you go about life and don't realise that you may need their help like this one day."

Mr Douglas said he was treated for hypothermia at Moruya Hospital.

"I was amazed at how well I was looked after," he said.

- Josh Gidney, Batemans Bay Post.

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