Police act as crocodile lookouts in bus driver rescue

TWO police officers were tasked with watching for crocodiles in a Cairns creek during the rescue of a bus driver whose cabin was filling with water.

About 6.45pm on Sunday a tourist bus with trailer crashed in Smiths Creek in Fearnley Street.

Two crocodiles were spotted in the creek as recently as June.

A passing police patrol with three plain clothes officers was on the scene within moments.

With the bus filling with water and sinking into the mud, an officer stood on either side of the river looking for crocodiles while the third entered the water to reach the bus.

A croc warning sign at the Gatton St bridge over Smiths Creek. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
A croc warning sign at the Gatton St bridge over Smiths Creek. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

More police officers were on the scene within minutes, shining car headlights into the water to help illuminate the bus as police determined how many people were on board, and to help search for crocodiles.

 

Part of Smiths Creek. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Part of Smiths Creek. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

 

Fortunately, the bus was empty except for the male driver, who was trapped inside the cabin. It took several attempts before the officer was able to drag the driver out through the windscreen and to the safety of the embankment.

Police provided first aid to the driver, a 36-year-old man, before he was transported to Cairns Base Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Far North District Duty Officer Senior Sergeant Duane Amos said the quick thinking of the officers involved likely saved the life of the bus driver.

"The rapid response by the officers, seeing the bus sinking and flooding the compartment area, has averted a tragedy on the quickly submerging bus," he said.



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