Officers recount rescue of 8yo girl
Mon, 13 Aug 2012 6:07p.m.
By Hamish Clark
Police officers have told of the emotional moment they found an eight-year-old girl alive after she survived being trapped in a submerged four-wheel-drive for two hours.
Her father had left her in the Toyota Hilux with her nine-year-old brother while he was checking on a water pump at a small gold mine on the West Coast, around 7pm last night.
The vehicle then rolled three metres down into the slurry pond, trapping the two young children upside down underwater.
Senior Sergeant Allyson Ealam of Greymouth Police was one of the first officers on the scene, and went into the water with Sergeant Russell Glue to check for survivors. She says she will always remembering hearing the young girl cry out.
“I will never ever, ever forget that cry for help,” she says.
Mr Glue says the girl had survived thanks to an air pocket around her head.
“She was in the rear compartment of that vehicle and obviously, because the vehicle was upside down her head, face area was [on] what would normally be the floor, and there was obviously an air pocket there,” he says.
Mr Glue smashed the window in and pulled the girl to safety, cold and soaking wet, with a body temperature of about 30degC.
“It was like she had just woken up, she was gasping and dirty and obviously soaking wet,” says Ms Ealam.
West Coast area commander Inspector John Canning says it was a mixed emotional reaction from the desperate parents, who were watching the rescue unfold.
“They were elated that she was alive, but there was also that overwhelming sense of, 'Where is the boy?'” says Mr Canning. “That sort of elation waned as she was alright, but their thoughts went to the son, and that wasn't a happy ending.”
Ms Ealam says she had to break the news to the mother that her son had not survived.
“Mum came down to the scene, and she saw the car. I explained to her that her boy was in there still and we were doing everything we could to get him out, and like any mother would she fell to her knees,” she says.
Nine-year-old Tayne Bowes was trapped in the back seat, still in his seatbelt. His body was freed an hour later after the vehicle was lifted out of the water by a digger.
Ms Ealam says it affected all those who were involved.
“You obviously want to return two kids to their parents, and certainly we are parents, and we did everything we could.”
It was a bittersweet end for the two police officers, and a tragedy for the family.
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14/08/2012 2:07:02 a.m.
My thoughts are for all of you who were involved with the rescue and recovery and for the family... God Bless
13/08/2012 11:18:06 p.m.
@ Katrina - Yes tragic in relation to young Tayne.
All NZ cops should carry these:
13/08/2012 7:12:06 p.m.
what a terrible tragedy for that poor family
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