Donna Rice can see the flood water rapidly rising around her car, and knows that she and her sons are in real trouble. Ten minutes before she has called Triple O and sought help from a police officer, but he had rudely rebuffed her.
She would have liked to punch the prick in the face, and later on she just might, but right now Donna has more pressing issues to attend to because 20 minutes ago her car had stalled in a couple of inches of water as she and her sons had neared the intersection of a main street and a major highway, and all of a sudden the water is six feet deep and rising around them.
Donna knows that they are in a spot of bother, and that she has to keep the kids calm if they are to get out of it in one piece, so after her emergency call she told them that the police were coming to rescue them, and would be here soon.
Of course Donna is lying through her teeth, but she is a mother and these boys are her life, and her husband’s too, and anyway despite what the fella who answered the phone a few minutes ago said she believes in the blue. After all her husband John’s uncle was a high ranking copper, and he was a champion bloke who’d do anything for anyone.
Donna imagines that the copper who took her call was just stressed and busy, and that soon he would realise his mistake and send someone to pull her and the boys out of the ever-encroaching mire.
She hopes so anyway.
But ten minutes have passed since she called Triple 0, and no-one has come. The water was getting higher by the second. Donna couldn’t wait any longer. She had to do something, and do it quick.
So she pushed redial and handed the phone to Jordan, telling him that she needed to get Blake up on the roof to keep him safe, and instructing him to tell the police they needed to hurry up because they were all about to drown.
Jordan didn’t need his Mum to tell him about the danger they suddenly faced; he could see it, and the young boy who that day became a man tried his best to explain it to the emergency services officer at the end of the phone.
He did a good job too, and was promised that a crew would be sent straight away to save him and his brother and his mum.
The time was 1.57 pm.
Jordan took the person at the other end of the phone at their word.
The thirteen year old boy turned man told his Mum and his little brother that the police were on their way and coming to save them.
There was no way he could know that he had been told a lie.
No crew was sent.
The swift water rose.
Blake was on the roof, and his Mum had summoned super human strength to haul open the back door and was about to hoist him up there too.
The time was 2.02 pm.
A good woman standing 50 meters away sees the catastrophe unfolding.
She would like to jump in and try to save the woman and her kids, but by this time the intersection has become far too dangerous. If she tried she’d drown; she is too old and too light to win a battle against the strength of the sudden raging torrent,
So the woman, whose name is Nikita Sutcliffe, seeking a saviour for the stranded strangers calls Triple O.
Senior Constable Jason Wheeler takes her call.
And that was all she wrote.
Seven minutes passes.
A brave man named Warren McErlean grabs a rope, ties it to a light pole and dives into the raging water to try to rescue the family. He get within 2 meters of the car but is toppled by the torrent and loses his footing. Some men standing at the light pole pull him back to prevent him from drowning.
One of them is Chris Skehan, who has just joined the group. He grabs the rope and McErlean holds it tight as he plunges into the stormy water that is about to engulf Donna and her kids. He makes it to the car and reaches out to take Jordan to safety, but the young boy turned man says ‘no, take my brother first!’, and in doing so saves his little brother Blake’s life.
Working in tandem with Warren McErlean, Chris Skehan returns to the water and crosses to Donna and Jordan, who are up on the stricken car. Just as he reaches them suddenly the rope breaks.
Jordan is flung into the water.
Donna dives in to save him.
Skehan is being flung downstream by the current, but reaches out and grabs hold of a light pole. He looks up and sees that Donna has pulled Jordan to a light pole too, and the pair are holding it from either side.
A bystander named Anthony Kleidon witnesses the events. He calls Triple O from his mobile phone and tells the operator that a girl and a boy are stuck on a light pole. The girl is in fact Donna, and the boy Jordan.
While he is on the phone the torrent sweeps Jordan off the pole and onto the branch of a tree. Donna dives back into the water and somehow summons the strength to steer herself to the tree that her son is clasping on to, but the branch Jordan is holding breaks and he is washed downstream.
Donna lets go of the branch she is holding and dives after her son.
She is the mother every child wishes they had.
Thrown around by the swirling tempest Donna is unable to reach Jordan, no matter how hard she tries, and just as he emerged into this life bathing in his mother’s waters so shall Jordan pass into the next.
Together they drown.
Seconds later, an emergency services vehicle is sent to save them.
Soon after the cover-up begins.