The car rolled onto its side after hitting a Jacaranda tree.
The car rolled onto its side after hitting a Jacaranda tree. Warren Powter

FROM ZERO TO HERO: Meet the strangers who jumped into rescue

A GROUP of strangers have become unexpected heroes when an elderly gentleman rolled his car on Fitzroy Street, Grafton on Monday. The Daily Examiner caught up with them so they could share their story:

Dan Optland

"I was just walking out the front of my work when he floored it. He ended up right beside my boss's car which I thought he was going to hit, but luckily didn't.

It all happened in slow motion; He darted straight across the road, almost hit a black car, tapped the tree, the car went up, then landed on its side.


Dan Optland
Dan Optland Contributed

I darted across to help and almost got taken out by a car. I had my coffee in hand and threw it to the ground. I saw that the guy was still strapped in. He had difficulty getting the the seatbelt off. It was obvious we were never going to get him out the driver's side.

I yelled to a colleague to help clear stuff out of the boot. Then we were both holding his arms to try and get traction until I gave him the biggest bear hug and retracted out through the boot. I couldn't believe that he only had scratches on him, which were the ones he got on the way out.


Dan Optland's FitBit reading during the incident.
Dan Optland's FitBit reading during the incident. Dan Optland

My heartbeat was going crazy and the Fitbit I was wearing thought I had done a 1hr 45min workout from all the adrenaline!

It's very fortunate how it ended, that he wasn't injured or worse."

Warren Powter

"The crash happened right behind me. I pulled over straight away and ran back to the car. Two guys were already there. They were having trouble holding the car door open.


Warren Powter
Warren Powter Contributed

I ran around, climbed up and stood on the exhaust pipe, leaned into the car to help hold the car door open from the inside. I looked into the car and noticed the car was still on, so I turned the ignition off

I put the driver's seat back so he could climb through into the back seat. Then the big fella in the white shirt gave him a bear hug and pulled him out through the boot.

Afterwards, I had a quick look at the elderly man and he didn't seem to need first aid. He was conscious and talking and in the distance I could hear the sirens, so I knew he'd be all good. I didn't speak to him because the crowd of people wanting to help completely swamped him."

Susan Wratten

"Dan (Opland) and I ran across the road as soon as we saw it happen. There were quite a lot of people running. I opened the boot and there was another guy there helping to pull everything out.

When Dan pulled the elderly man out, we walked him over to the gutter and I sat with him while we were trying to get in touch with his next of kin.


Susan Wratten
Susan Wratten Contributed

I sat with him to reassure him and check that he was okay. I also helped him with sorting out the tow truck.

He was pretty high spirited about the whole thing. He said he wasn't used to driving automatic cars and even joked with police about parking it well.

It was pretty amazing to see how many people jumped into action."

Geoffery Budden

"It was quite an experience. It all happened so fast.

We were heading toward the round-a-bout, and got stuck in traffic due to people crossing. I saw the old guy in the car pass us. It leapt forward, stopped, leapt forward again and then hit our car.

I leapt out of the car and was the first person at his side. It was literally just adrenaline and instinct, I saw him shoot across the road to the tree, and I instantly jumped out.


Geoffery Budden
Geoffery Budden Contributed

Dan (Opland) turned up shortly after me, then another guy was on the other side of the car and popped the handle for us. Dan and I held the door open while we comforted the man. The other guy unlatched his seatbelt and the man stood straight up. He was such a tough old man!

We got him out and he stood up no problem, and walked over to the gutter. We crouched down in front of him, started talking to him, making sure he was alright. Someone suggested he was going into shock, but he just laughed and assured us he wasn't.

It was really strange too because my adrenaline was pumping throughout the whole incident. Afterwards, I went to the shopping centre and not long after buying a drink, I went into shock.

It was quite an experience. Just the way everyone came out of nowhere; I was there, then next minute there were 20 people standing around trying to help."

Jordan Danzey

"I heard the initial crash, then a bang. People as far as the Grafton Battery shop came running to help. I saw the car on its side and they were trying to get him out through the door. I had to run around and open the boot and pull everything out.

The elderly gentleman told me he hit the accelerator instead of the brake and that's when he hit the tree. It was pretty incredible to see how many people came out to help. I hope someone would do the same for me if that ever happened."

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