Award recipients risked their own lives to save others

Lowood residents Ernst Gomsi and Raymond Bruckner have been awarded Clarke Bravery Medals for saving two men from flood waters at Lockyer Creek in January, 2011.
Lowood residents Ernst Gomsi and Raymond Bruckner have been awarded Clarke Bravery Medals for saving two men from flood waters at Lockyer Creek in January, 2011. Ava Benny-Morrison

SPEAKING of the events on January 10, 2011 and like many in his community, Raymond Bruckner cannot hide his underlying emotions.

"You see people's houses ripped apart and their lives spread across paddocks," the 40-year-old said.

The father of two was one of many selfless Lockyer Valley residents who, despite being faced with the very real prospect of losing their own home and worse, put their safety second for their neighbours.

Two years on from the natural disaster, Mr Bruckner and his co-rescuer, Ernst Gomsi, have been recognised for their selfless deed.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce presented the Lowood neighbours with the Clarke Medals for their bravery in rescuing two men from the flooded Lockyer Creek on January 10, 2011.

Mr Bruckner said he went next door to check on Mr Gomsi when he heard two people - who had attempted to launch a boat into the creek to rescue a group of stranded children - had capsized in the flood waters.

"I just said to Ernst, 'let's get the canoe'," Mr Bruckner recalled.

"Our plan was always to go out and have a look and tell them (police) what we heard.

"As we rounded the corner, they (men in water) saw us and we saw them. At that point you are not really thinking of the 'what ifs' - it's 'we have got to do something'."

After taking one man - who had been electrocuted and suffered a heart attack - to the creek bank, Mr Bruckner and Mr Gomsi went back for the other man.

The canoe tipped to the side, throwing Mr Gomsi out in the process.

"I panicked a little because it was raining constantly, the water was very dirty and was cold as ice," Mr Gomsi said.

"I knew I had to get out quickly and into the canoe."

An hour later after battling raging flood waters, Mr Gomsi and Mr Bruckner returned to safety, having saved two people's lives.

The men returned to live in Lowood following the flood and despite grappling with their own trauma, helped their community recover from the tragedy

"It's not until you get something like this, like the 2011 floods, you really see the community resilience and how everyone pitches in and gets the job done," Mr Bruckner said.

After receiving his bravery medals in Brisbane on Thursday, a modest Mr Gomsi said he didn't consider himself a hero.

"But I am still very appreciative," the 69-year-old said.


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