News24

Australian baby airlifted to safety

2013-01-29 14:02

Sydney - The mother of a toddler winched to safety in a bag from the back of a truck trapped in raging Australian floodwaters said on Tuesday she felt "sick" as her sobbing infant son was lifted from her arms.

Robin Collie, who is four months pregnant, was driving to the town of Biloela in Australia's north-eastern Queensland state for supplies when her utility truck hit a submerged tree and stalled in rising floodwaters.

Trapped with her 14-month-old son Luke, Collie and a friend Donna dialled the emergency number to request an air rescue, dramatic footage of which was captured by a helmet-mounted camera of one of the helicopter crew that came to their aid.

Luke was too small to fit into the rescue harness and had to be zipped into a waterproof equipment bag from the helicopter to be winched up.

Collie, 22, had an anxious two-hour wait for the helicopter to arrive, the waters rising all the while, and said her only thought was "just to get Luke out, and quickly".

"The worst part was seeing him go up in the bag," she told Seven News.

"[I felt] sick, it's your baby, it's your life. Putting him in a bag and zipping it up, God, above water that could carry him away."

Though Luke was crying she said they "zipped [the bag] right up, no little hole to peek out of or anything" and it was not opened again until he was safely in the helicopter cabin.

"He poked his little head out, he was like a kangaroo in a pouch," she said.

The road wasn't closed when she began the journey into what she thought was shallow water but Collie said she had learnt a valuable lesson.

"I won't drive through puddles anymore."

Floods triggered by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald have inundated thousands of homes across Queensland and neighbouring New South Wales, killing four people and isolating or displacing tens of thousands of others.