JEFF Ward has credited a ‘‘good Samaritan’’ with helping to save his father’s life after a collision with a kangaroo while driving between Echuca and Deniliquin recently.
The family members — Jeff, his wife Peng, daughter Bionee and Jeff’s parents Don and Pam Ward from Deniliquin — were stranded on the side of the road about 30km out of Echuca about midnight Sunday.
A woman named Sue stopped to see if they needed assistance, offering to bring some of them back to Deniliquin.
Jeff and Pam stayed behind to wait for NRMA assistance to arrive.
‘‘A couple of trucks went past and didn’t stop; we didn’t wave them down or anything but no-one was interested in helping us,’’ Jeff said.
‘‘Then this lovely lady pulled over.
‘‘She was on her own and I just thought ‘my God, here’s a woman on her own at midnight who has the kindness to ask if we were all right’.
‘‘My dad, daughter and wife hopped in the car with her, and she took them back to Deniliquin.’’
It was on the drive back to Deniliquin that the injuries Don sustained in the collision started to become evident.
‘‘My father started to slip in and out of conciousness, turning all white and finally collapsing when they reached my parents’ house (in Deniliquin).
‘‘The good Samaritan called an ambulance and stayed with him until he was taken to Deni hospital.’’
A few hours later, Don was transferred to Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital when it was discovered his injuries were much more serious than first thought.
Don suffered eight separate ruptures to his spleen, and also had one laceration to the liver. He also broke two ribs.
Jeff said his dad has since undergone surgery to repair the spleen and should be released from The Alfred today or over the weekend.
‘‘We were still pretty shaky from the shock the day after the crash, and obviously with dad being injured,’’ Jeff said.
‘‘The irony in this situation is that hitting a kangaroo happens all the time, but the repercussions of this accident has meant that someone could have died.
‘‘It’s quite bizarre that this lady came just at the right time to stop and help.
‘‘If dad had collapsed there in the middle of the highway, who knows what could have happened.’’
Jeff said while they were aware of the trouble with kangaroos on the Cobb Highway between Echuca and Deniliquin, the kangaroo they hit still ‘‘came out of nowhere’’.
He said the family was on its way to Deniliquin after collecting Don and Pam from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.
‘‘My wife, daughter and I all went down to welcome my parents back from Europe.
‘‘Their flight had been delayed from a missed connection on the stopover in Japan, so I couldn’t pick them up until 9pm.
‘‘I knew I wasn’t tired and was in good condition to drive home rather than getting a hotel room to sleep the night.
‘‘Basically I was just driving along and the kangaroo came out of nowhere.
‘‘I braced myself because I knew he was going to hit me. You’ve only got those milliseconds where you’re like ‘ahh no’.
‘‘There was no time to brake and you can’t swerve, so it just went ‘whack’. I saw a couple of little ones but this fellow was a big shock.
‘‘I was worried about my mum, daughter and wife, but we noticed that dad, who had been sitting in the passenger seat, had some blood on his arm.
‘‘He said he was a little bit sore around his ribs but didn’t really say much else.
‘‘At this point I rang the NRMA and informed them about the crash and they said they were getting a truck out to us and to call an ambulance if my father got worse.’’
Jeff said given their ordeal, the family has not yet had a chance to track down the woman who helped them.
He approached the Pastoral Times — the Riverine Herald’s sister paper — to help find her, and to raise awareness of the danger of kangaroo numbers.
‘‘We think she might be someone living locally but we are having a lot of trouble finding information,’’ Jeff said.
‘‘My wife didn’t catch her full name, all we got was Sue. We’ve called the local ambos but they have no way of figuring it out.
‘‘This woman’s actions were amazing.
‘‘I also wonder if she’s all right. How brave she was to take my family and then crawl 60km/h to Deniliquin whilst looking out for kangaroos, and in the meantime stopping every now and again to wake my father up.’’
Jeff has encouraged their good Samaritan to get in touch with the Pastoral Times or the Riverine Herald so the family can ‘‘express our gratitude and show her how grateful we are’’.