Glenwood man saved by his mates

Chris Bern, Russell Reinikka and Brett Whiteway share a laugh after Mr Reinikka’s rescue.
Chris Bern, Russell Reinikka and Brett Whiteway share a laugh after Mr Reinikka’s rescue. Tanya Easterby

RUSSELL Reinikka could have lost his life yesterday morning.

The Glenwood man was pulled from the window of his overturned car by Fraser Coast Council workers Brett Whiteway and Chris Bern as it filled with water.

Last minute errands required Mr Reinikka to drive his Subaru Brumby ute to the Glenwood store yesterday morning to pick up some groceries.

On the way he saw friend and council worker, Brett Whiteway, remove a road counter on Arbor 10 Rd and decided to pull over for a chat on his return.

Mr Reinikka was starting to pull his vehicle over to the side of the road as the accident happened.

As he was coming to a halt, Mr Whiteway was walking towards his friend's car on the edge of the road.

It was then both men realised the car wasn't going to stop but was sliding over wet grass.

Mr Whiteway hastily moved to one side, and watched as his friend and his vehicle dropped over the culvert and rolled into the drain.

The car was on its roof and sinking into the water.

Without thinking, both council workers ran to the culvert and jumped into the water to try to rescue Mr Reinnikka.

They headed towards the driver's side door and tried to open it or at least get the window down - both were firmly stuck.

Mr Whiteway said the other alternative that ran through his mind was to flip the car over, but the suction of the water was too great.

With time running out for the submerged driver the rescuers moved quickly to the passenger side of the car.

They were able to push the window down and reach inside for Mr Reinikka and drag him out the window.

"It happened so quickly and my first thought was that I might have to give CPR to my mate," a rather subdued Mr Whiteway said.

All three men, wet and bedraggled, crawled their way out of the cold water to the safety of the bank, grateful for a moment to breathe in fresh air.

Mr Reinikka said he feared for his life.

"I managed to get my seatbelt undone," he said.

"I tried to feel around for the door but I couldn't make out where I was."

He said he could feel the cold water slowly creep up towards his chest and started to realise things were going to get worse if he couldn't find a way out.

"I just didn't want to swallow any water," he said.

"I knew if I did that I would start to panic."

Mr Bern didn't hesitate for one moment as he followed his workmate into the water to help rescue his friend.

Gympie Times

Topics:  car crash rescue

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