Drunk, unconscious woman dragged from river at Noreuil Park

RESCUER: Melbourne holidaymaker Phil Clarke was one of three people who saved the woman. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
RESCUER: Melbourne holidaymaker Phil Clarke was one of three people who saved the woman. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

AN UNCONSCIOUS woman has been pulled to safety from the Murray River after becoming entangled in a tree.

The woman – who a rescuer described as being “really, really drunk” – wanted to keep swimming after being saved.

Melbourne holidaymaker Phil Clarke had been at Noreuil Park on Christmas Day when he heard a man shouting for help.

The woman had her leg stuck in a tree and the man was holding her head above water to prevent her from drowning.

Mr Clarke jumped into the water with his father-in-law and swam out to help her.

The trio freed her leg before dragging her to the bank.

Mr Clarke said the man who first raised the alarm had saved the swimmer’s life.

“She was unconscious - it was lucky she got snagged, otherwise she would have been swept down the river,” he said.

“She offered us sherry when she got out.

SAVED: Albury and Border Rescue Squad volunteers also saved a man whose boat become stuck in trees on the Murray River on Christmas Day

SAVED: Albury and Border Rescue Squad volunteers also saved a man whose boat become stuck in trees on the Murray River on Christmas Day

“I guess it’s a cautionary tale - it’s pretty silly.

“It’s just lucky that the guy saw her and there were other people in the park who could help her out.”

Mr Clarke had been unable to get the details of the man who first raised the alarm.

“The bloke deserves a bit of recognition for diving in,” he said.  

“He did a great job to keep her head above water.

“He said he lived in Albury and that was it, he disappeared.”

According to Life Saving Victoria, alcohol is linked to a third of Murray River drowning deaths. 

Albury and Border Rescue Squad deputy captain Paul Marshall said the incident was disappointing.

“Alcohol and water don’t mix,” he said. 

“It’s the same as driving a car – you lose a lot of your cognitive abilities, you become impaired and you get into trouble, as it appears has happened with this lady. 

“Thankfully it appears she’s come out of it OK.” 

The disappointing thing for emergency service workers was knowing such incident were avoidable, Mr Marshall said. 

The rescue squad responded to a Christmas Day incident where a man’s boat become stuck in a tree on the river near Mungabareena. 

Engine problems caused the boat to get swept into trees and become stuck before taking on water about 2pm. 

Mr Marshall said the man had been well prepared. 

“He did everything right,” he said. 

“He was wearing his life jacket, he had his phone, he stayed with the boat and he didn’t panic.”