15-year wait for bravery award
FIFTEEN years ago, Tim Jones and some of his mates stopped at the scene of an horrific crash and tried desperately to help a driver trapped in his burning truck.
Little did he know that the act in November, 1997, would lead him to be presented today with the Commendation for Brave Conduct award.
Sadly the truck driver died in the fire.
It has taken 15 years for authorities to track down the group who tried to save the driver.
Mr Jones, a 63-year-old retiree of Belli Park, said he and some friends had been on a camping trip in rural Victoria, near Hamilton, when they came across the accident.
"There were 10 of us on a minibus when we saw the accident," Mr Jones said.
"A semi-trailer had gone off the road approaching a bridge.
"The trailer was on its side on the road and the prime mover was inverted down a gully.
"There was smoke coming from the prime mover and we could hear someone calling out for help."
Mr Jones said five of his mates got out of the minibus to try and help the truck driver, who was pinned across his pelvis in the upturned cabin.
"I was able to get inside the cab through the side window," Mr Jones said.
"It was obvious that the driver couldn't be freed - he was jammed too badly. The only way to save him was to try and stop the flames."
Mr Jones said when he entered the cabin, the truck driver was conscious but going into shock.
"He was talking to me and asking if I could get him out," he said.
"I was reassuring him that we were doing everything we could.
"My main concern was if the truck slipped or rolled further down the gully or on top of me while I was inside the cab," he said.
"Once I realised it was stable, the next worry was the fire."
Mr Jones and his friends tried to put out the fire with fire extinguishers and tree branches but the flames were spreading too quickly.
"The driver's brother got in contact with one of the guys from our group to thank us for trying," he said.
"The family were very understanding about what happened.
"I am still very sad about it to this day that we couldn't save the guy."
Mr Jones said yesterday he did not feel brave.
"No you never think you are brave," he said.
"It's the Australian way to help out someone who is in trouble."