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Stranded couple rescued

Monday, 15th February, 2010

* A group of youngsters took to body boards and an air-mattress to enjoy the relatively steady flow of water in a storm drain along Beryl Street on Saturday. * A group of youngsters took to body boards and an air-mattress to enjoy the relatively steady flow of water in a storm drain along Beryl Street on Saturday.

Torrential rain in the district on the weekend led to a helicopter rescue north of Broken Hill and turned many of the city's streets into recreational waterways, much to the dismay of police.A young couple stranded by rising waters on the Silver City Highway spent Friday night and much of Saturday in their car and were rescued by an SES helicopter late on Saturday.

The pair, including a six-months pregnant woman, were on their way to Broken Hill for a regular medical check-up when they were caught by rising creeks between Milparinka and Tibooburra. Near Milparinka they found they could not proceed because of a swollen creek and after turning around to head back towards Tibooburra, discovered that creeks had risen behind them.

They drove to high ground and contacted police. The weather in the area prevented an immediate rescue, but their welfare was monitored throughout the night by police and the SES.

It wasn't until late on Saturday that a helicopter rescue was possible and they were taken to Tibooburra and then by RFDS aircraft to Broken Hill hospital.

Police said yesterday that both were well. In Wilcannia a police officer took to the flooded Darling River at midnight on Friday in an attempt to rescue an intoxicated teenage girl who had jumped from a bridge pylon after threatening self-harm. The officer and the girl eventually made it to the bank unharmed, but not before some anxious moments in the darkness that saw both taken by the swollen river about 150 to 200 metres down stream.

The officer had removed boots and utilities belt before entering the water and the rescue attempt was monitored by a fellow officer who followed along the bank with a torch. The 19-year-old girl made it to the western bank but the police officer was taken by the current a further 50 metres down river. Off duty police had been called to assist the officers and the girl was apprehended and taken to the Wilcannia hospital for assessment by medical staff.

The details weren't available yesterday but she was eventually charged over matters related to an incident earlier in the day. Police also yesterday warned of the dangers of treating stormwater drains as recreational areas. Sergeant Jason Baker said locals need only look to recent events on the east coast to see how dangerous storm water could be. Just last week a boy was saved in a dramatic rescue after he fell into the flooded Nerang River and another boy was lucky to be alive after being swept through a pipe by storm water.

While generations of local children have enjoyed similar summer downpours, Sgt Baker said some of the main storm drains had the potential to rise quickly and result in swimmers getting into difficulty."It really is a dangerous practice and parents should be careful to ensure they know where their children are playing," he said. In the 24 hours to 9am yesterday the city recorded 54mm at the airport automatic weather station and 39mm in Patton Street, while a property just east of the city received 63mm.

Tibooburra received between 39 and 43mm in the same period, while Wilcannia received 55mm, Ivanhoe 67mm, Menindee 21 and Taringo Downs, south of Cobar, had 87mm.

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