A man clings to his vehicle yesterday after it was washed downstream from the Isaac River Bridge on Monday night.
A man clings to his vehicle yesterday after it was washed downstream from the Isaac River Bridge on Monday night. Contributed

Man spends night on 4WD's roof

IT took just seconds for an attempt to cross this flooded bridge to turn to disaster – but the driver spent the next 11 hours regretting his decision.

The 40-year-old was forced to cling to his vehicle, surrounded by rising floodwater, for an entire night – not knowing whether or not he would be rescued – after being washed downstream from the Isaac River Bridge on Monday.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) Mackay station officer Neil Mellifont said passers-by discovered the man near the Fitzroy Developmental Road crossing at about 10pm.

They went for help, however, when police arrived, they saw the driver of a second vehicle that had struck difficulty emerge from the floodwater, he said.

Believing the driver of the first flooded vehicle was safe and well, they called off the rescue, Mr Mellifont said. The distressed driver was again spotted about 6am yesterday, reactivating emergency services, and a Mackay-based swift-water rescue team pulled the man to safety at about 9.10am.

“Four swift-water rescue guys went out and retrieved the gentleman,” Mr Mellifont said.

“They did what we call a tethered swim – one person swam out with a rope and put a life jacket on the gentleman and the other guys hauled them both in together. It took all up about half an hour or 45 minutes.”

Police said the driver was the 14th person in a month to be retrieved after vehicles attempted to cross flooded roads in the Mackay district. Two people have died while trying to cross flooded creeks in the region.

Mr Mellifont said Mackay’s swift-water rescue team had completed 20 retrievals in the past year.

“In the last three weeks, with all the rain, we’ve had three – dead and alive.

“They think they can drive across – (and that) it’s not that deep. The water actually moves quite fast over roads and creeks.”

He said drivers could be charged for their rescues.

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