RACQ rescue chopper crewman Brian Guthrie was in Bundaberg doing rooftop retrievals.
RACQ rescue chopper crewman Brian Guthrie was in Bundaberg doing rooftop retrievals.

Heroic Toowoomba pilot recalls Bundaberg flood rescues

WHEN Brian Guthrie flew up to Bundaberg during the 2013 floods, he literally had lives in his hands.

The Careflight chief air crewman, from Toowoomba, was thrown into action one year ago, rescuing a number of people trapped in their home.

However, there is one rescue that stands out for Mr Guthrie - winching Daniel and Helen Smith and their 15-month-old son James from their tiny landing where they were stranded by floodwaters.

Mr Guthrie said he carefully winched down Toowoomba paramedic Anthony Clark, who had to convince Mrs Smith - who was also heavily pregnant - to hand over her small child.

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"It was a Queenslander with only a small balcony - only a metre square," he said.

"We were about 80 feet above the house, because there were trees and powerlines around it.

"There were waters rushing around the house.

Mr Guthrie said winching people was a last resort option involving some risks.

"Anthony had to convince the family that this was the best option - to give up their boy, that was a big ask.

"He had both hands on (James), he wasn't worried about himself.

"You understand the risk involved, and we're very cognitive of what can happen.

"My boy's about the same age - all three of us on board the aircraft are fathers.

"I saw a photo of them recently, and they look really happy which is really satisfying."

Mrs Smith said she remained grateful to Careflight.

"(James) was so petrified but it was the best thing," she said.

"I said take my baby, make him safe."



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