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Lifesavers' rescue on dryland

Grace Heath with her rescuers.
Grace Heath with her rescuers. Trevor Veale

IT'S a rescue that this group of Coffs Harbour Surf Club lifesavers will never forget.

They drew on their years of expertise to save lives not at sea this time but at a terrible accident on the notorious highway stretch south of Urunga.

Surf boat rowers Veronique Freeman, Belinda Leeson, Rachael Smyth and Chris McDonough were headed to a surf carnival at Scotts Head when they came across the two-car smash on Friday night.

Their cool heads kicked in as they and other shocked motorists immediately rushed to the aid of badly injured brother and sister Lindsay and Grace Heath and to a critically-injured man in the other vehicle.

Those frantic moments have now bonded the rescuers to the siblings.

“Our priority was to triage,” Rachael said.

“The skills that we teach here at the surf club aren't necessarily confined to the beach. They're used in every day life.

“It's a life skill and we're glad they're okay and safe.”

Lindsay, an apprentice fitter-machinist with CSIRO and Grace, who has just finished Year 12, were on their way from Brisbane to the NSW South Coast when their Ford Mondeo slammed head-on into a Jeep driven by a Gulmarrad man, 54.

Eyewitnesses said the Jeep appeared to cross the road and spin out of control before the collision, which ruptured the four-wheel-drive's fuel tank and covered the Heath children in petrol.

Chris said he heard Lindsay's screams and saw Grace getting out of their wreck. She was helped to the side of the road where she was treated and comforted as her brother remained trapped for another 90 minutes.

“We found a man unconscious in the Jeep. We held him up and supported his neck and opened his airways,” Chris said.


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