Tumut Ambulance Cases

Tumut & District Ambulance Service.

Fitzroy Street,

Tumut. NSW 2720


Trapped woman's desperate dilemma

A woman trapped in her wrecked car for three days considered amputating her own leg.\] SHE was a woman fallen on hard times living on a pension in a Tumut women's shelter, but in a seasonal miracle Deborah McKnight was spared when her Commodore swerved off the winding road on her way home from seeing family in Batlow for some Christmas cheer.

Trapped upside down in her car at the bottom of an embankment on the Tumut-Adelong road in southern NSW, apparently with nothing to eat or drink for three days, she was found on Wednesday night by Caleb Wilks, 17, on his way to a neighbour's house.

After spotting the wreck, he climbed down an eight-metre embankment through blackberry bushes, reassured Ms McKnight that help was on its way and dialled 000.

''She couldn't move, so she didn't have anything,'' Caleb's mother, Gabriel Wilks, said. ''All we can think of she was just lucky the weather was not extreme.She didn't have any water, but she was near a gully and there was humidity around her As far as we know, she was just a very strong person.''

Police say Ms McKnight, 45, lost control of her car when she swerved to miss a kangaroo on a bend of a winding road in the undulating foothills of the Snowy Mountains

Sergeant Bryan Hammond, of Tumut Police, said she was saved partly because ''where the car was positioned, she would have got the sun in the morning but not in the afternoon''.

Ms McKnight was trapped in the front seat near the door and window of the car, her left leg pinned under metal, according to Tumut's mayor and ambulance station manager, John Larter, one of three paramedics who helped to release her. I think that was just probably more good fortune than anything that she didn't have any other obvious significant injury,'' he said.

Ambulance Supervisor Inspector Eamonn Purcell said that the full weight of the car was on her lower leg and her rescuers believe that this acted as a tourniquet.

Doctors amputated the leg in Canberra Hospital, where she was recovering yesterday in a stable condition.

According to Owen Finegan, the chief executive officer of Snowy Hydro's SouthCare helicopter, Ms McKnight lay in a ravine near a bridge, close to sounds of vehicles passing overhead. The pilot said that despite being in the car for three days, she was in pretty good spirits,'' he said. ''She was pretty happy she had finally been found. A million things were going through her mind.''

Mr Larter said he was surprised how long she had been there because she was so chipper. ''Considering what had happened and the length of time she'd been there, she was in a remarkably good condition,'' he said.

Rescue workers from the State Emergency Service, Rural Fire Service and Fire Rescue NSW had to raise the car on airbags before using hydraulic cutters to make a hole in the door. Then, it took just eight minutes to get her up to the helicopter, according to Keith Favell, from the Murrumbidgee SES. Tumut resident Jim Hampstead, said he knew Ms McKnight as a friend of his son. She was a grandmother with a lovely personality who was beaten down by life.

Mrs Wilks said her son was doing well after his stressful find. In Canberra, TV representatives were offering Ms McKnight's family members money for her story. - (Ref- http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/woman-survives-three-days-trapped-in-wreck.

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