RAY Cole waded into raging floodwaters and emerged a hero.
His decision to rescue a drowning joey has made him an international star and captured the hearts of millions around the world.
Mr Cole, a truck driver from West Ipswich, was watching the river rise from the One Mile Bridge last Tuesday evening with his eight-year-old-son John.
“People started pointing to something in the water. A woman screamed: ‘Save the kangaroo',” Mr Cole said. “It was just a spur of the moment thing. I was brought up to help those in need.
“Next thing I know I'm neck-deep in water and thinking what am I doing out here?”
Amateur photographer Nick De Villiers, of Eastern Heights, captured the moment as Mr Cole carried the joey ashore.
By the early hours of Wednesday morning the photo had made world news. But the reaction hasn't been all positive.
“I've been called a lot of things, a hero, a goose, an idiot,” he said.
“I had 5500 friendship requests on Facebook and more than 2000 messages. Some has been hate mail but what can do you?”
He said he simply couldn't bear to see his coat of arms drown. “If it had've been an emu it might be a different story,” he said.
The roo is alive and well being cared for by a mother and daughter in Ipswich.
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