Four winched to safety by helicopter

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 00:01 17/10/2012
STRANDED: It wasn’t safe for fire crews to carry out a line rescue to the youths on the 4WD.
MARTIN DE RUYTER

STRANDED: It wasn’t safe for fire crews to carry out a line rescue to the youths on the 4WD.

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Four young people had to be rescued from the roof of their vehicle using a helicopter after a river crossing went wrong near Nelson.

The group became stranded in the Waimea River about 6.40pm last night.

Police, ambulance and fire crews from Appleby and Richmond attended.

However, a Fire Service spokesman said the car was in the middle of the river surrounded by swift flowing water and it wasn’t safe for fire crews to carry out a line rescue.

As a result, the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter was called and the group were each winched to the safety of the shoreline where they were assessed by ambulance.

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter intensive care paramedic Gary Tobin said no one was injured.

"They were crossing the river upstream and misjudged the depth and flow and got swept downstream. The vehicle came to a halt in the middle of the river in reasonably fast flowing water. The water was half way up the window of the car," he said.

The vehicle was not recovered and was expected to be retrieved tomorrow.

Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Ralph Lonsdale believed the group had been "caught out" as the river was higher than usual due to increased rainfall over recent months.

"It was obviously a bit deeper and faster than they thought and they were swept along the river. They then thought the safest place was the roof," he said.

Lonsdale said it was an easy mistake to make, especially during twilight.

He recommended people four-wheel driving should always travel with another vehicle in case one got into difficulty.

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