Teenager clings to tree, rescued after floodwaters wash away his car east of Geraldton

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Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
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A 17-year-old driver is rescued from floodwaters near Geraldton
Camera IconA 17-year-old driver is rescued from floodwaters near Geraldton Credit: Geraldton Greenough SES

A 17-year-old boy had to be rescued in dramatic fashion last night after his car got washed away, forcing him to cling to a tree for two-and-a-half hours in floodwaters near Geraldton.

The teenager was driving on the Yuna Tenindewa Road east of Geraldton about 8pm on Thursday and did not notice the cones put out to warn driver about the river flooding the road. The P-plate driver hit the water at 100km/h and his car was swept away.

Geraldton Greenough SES local manager Tom Wilson said the driver managed to self-evacuate from the car and luckily had the time and forethought to grab his mobile before he was swept 200-300m downstream from the crossing. He then grabbed hold of a tree and called triple zero for help.

Rescue crews, from Geraldton, Mullewa and Northampton, as well as police and St John Ambulance quickly sprung into action and rushed to the scene.

A 17-year-old driver is rescued from floodwaters near Geraldton
Camera IconA 17-year-old driver is rescued from floodwaters near Geraldton Credit: Geraldton Greenough SES

The boy was clinging to the tree in chest deep water when emergency crews arrived, with his rescuers throwing a rope to him and dragging him the 20m to the river bank. He was rescued about 10.45pm.

Cold and wet but safe, rescuers quickly gave the teenager first aid and tried to warm him up to avoid the risk of hypothermia. It’s believed St John Ambulance took him to hospital as a precaution.

Mr Wilson said the rescued teen was grateful and didn’t appear to be in bad shape. “We’ve all been young and inexperienced on the roads — you either learn from these things or you don’t survive them,” he said. “The poor bloke, he was only wearing a shirt and shorts.”

Mr Wilson said drivers needed to remain vigilant about road conditions.

“It doesn’t matter how much water there is, all that’s needed is 15cm of water and a car will float. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little Toyota Corolla or a Toyota Landcruiser. Just don’t cross roads where the river has gone across, simple as that,” he said.

Mr Wilson, who is not sure where the boy’s car ended up — either swept further downstream or sunk — said the team effort was commendable and the end result was worth it. “There’s nothing quite like a successful rescue,” he said.

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