A motorist and his passenger have been rescued after they became trapped in a vehicle while driving through flood waters in the state’s west yesterday.
About 9.00am yesterday (Sunday 3 July 2022), a 64-year-old man and a 63-year-old female passenger left Wilcannia in their Toyota utility, with the intention of travelling on West Tilpa Road towards their destination in Bourke.
The driver failed to acknowledge the electronic road closure sign located on the left-hand side of the road as they left Wilcannia and, approximately one kilometre south of Tilpa, the vehicle became submerged in flood waters.
Emergency services were contacted via triple zero and emergency services, including NSW Police, Rural Fire Service and the SES, travelled approximately 100km north of Wilcannia; however, were unable to get through due to the flood levels across the unsealed road.
Police were advised a short time later that the driver and passenger had been rescued by locals at Tilpa.
Officers from Barrier Police District were told the vehicle had proceeded through approximately six bodies of flood water on West Tilpa Road before becoming submerged.
The couple were uninjured and did not require any medical treatment.
Police later issued the 64-year-old driver an infringement notice for the offence – disobey road access sign – an offence that carries a $272 fine and 2 demerit points.
Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree, said that the incident served as a timely reminder of the difficulties first responders face when rescuing people from vehicles which have been driven into flood-affected roads.
“Emergency resources in flood-affected areas are already busy enough dealing with real-time emergencies – in this case, we had first responders having to divert from other duties to deal with a situation that could have been easily avoided and which could have ended tragically for those involved,” Assistant Commissioner Greentree said.
“Remarkably, since this incident, another vehicle towing a caravan became submerged in the flood waters on West Tilpa Road. The occupants have also been rescued and issued infringement notices for disobeying the road closure.
“I cannot stress enough of the inherent dangers faced by drivers thinking they can cross a flooded road – if it’s flooded, forget it,” Assistant Commissioner Greentree said.
Motorist are reminded not to drive into any roadways that are covered by water due to the dangers of becoming trapped.