Teen screamed ‘help me’ as water swept her away
THE bravery and quick-thinking action of an off-duty lifeguard has saved a young woman from drowning in a rapidly rising torrent at Josephine Falls.
Sheryl Baker was enjoying what was meant to be a relaxing family day out on Friday, when in an instant, terror set in as her daughter's friend Rachel Townsend could be heard screaming for help as the current swept her away.
"We were standing on the platform and I remember it so clearly, my girlfriend said, 'oh sh*t, oh sh*t' and there were these guys who just bolted after her," she said.
"She was screaming all the way down 'help me, help me' and she just happened to find a branch wedged under a rock … if that branch had not been there, God knows where she would have ended up."
Ms Baker said the rapidly rising water took the visiting swimmer from Ireland by surprise and she admits little attention was paid to a new warning system at the popular swimming hole.
"We had not paid any attention to the warning device and the next minute she was sucked down that middle section and off she went," Ms Baker said.
"It was a really scary experience and one I never want go through again."
Watching the events unfold were two men that sprang into action after hearing Ms Townsend scream for help.
"They tried to form a human chain to try and get out to her but that was not successful," she said.
"(Then) he got over to her and got her up on a rock and she put her arms around his neck like Superman."
"One was an actual lifesaver but they are all heroes."
Fifteen-year-old Ms Townsend was taken to Babinda Hospital and has since made a full recovery.
Ms Baker, from Brinsmead, said she had lived in the Far North long enough to have heard about the dangers of flash flooding but just didn't understand how quickly conditions could change.
"When we looked back after the event the rocks were all submerged and they were all out of the water when we got there. It was amazing," she said.
"I don't think I will be going back there any time soon. None of us will ever forget."
A recently installed warning system including flashing red lights was a recommendation that came out of a coronial inquest into the drowning deaths of Korean tourist Youngeun Kim in 2018 and Thomas Hunt in 2016.