Flood lifesaver wins bravery award

A HEATHERBRAE man who paddled a surf ski into 10-metre floodwaters and pulled a drowning man to safety has been presented with a police bravery award.

Darrell Slits was hailed a hero after he braved strong currents on the Hunter River at Raymond Terrace and rescued Jason White on April 2, 2009.

Mr White had been washed more than 1.5 kilometres downstream after falling into the water from the Terrace jetty. 

Mr Slits told the Newcastle Herald that Mr White had disappeared beneath the surface three or four times before he  pulled him onto his ski.

‘‘There was only about 30 seconds in it until he was gone,’’ he said.

‘‘He was very lucky. My wife didn’t want me to go in because we could see big trees being washed down but I told her I would stick close to the shore.’’

Mr Slits then navigated his way across the rising flood waters and dropped Mr White into the care of waiting emergency services on the riverbank.

Mr White was flown to John Hunter Hospital by Westpac rescue helicopter and survived.

‘‘It is without a doubt that Mr Slits is credited with saving a life,’’ Port Stephens acting commander Superintendent Trevor Shiels said.

He was given the commander’s bravery citation at Raymond Terrace police station on Wednesday. 

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