Heroic tradie smashes car window with axe to save man submerged in floodwaters

A heroic tradesman has performed a dramatic rescue, smashing a car window with an axe to allow an elderly man to escape a submerged vehicle on a flooded Queensland road.

Cairns electrician Sam Greenwood was driving down the Gillies Highway on Thursday afternoon when he became stranded on one side of the floodwater.

On getting out of his truck to inspect the road he noticed a Toyota Rav4 floating in the water, almost completely submerged.

Mr Greenwood said bystanders told him they could still see the car's windscreen wipers operating, suggesting the driver might be inside.

An elderly man drove into Cairns floodwaters on Thursday and became trapped. Photo: Facebook/ Sam Greenwood
Electrician Sam Greenwood was driving down the Gillies Highway on Thursday. Photo: Facebook

The electrician swam out to the car and saw a man, aged in his 60s, with his face pushed up to the vehicle roof, struggling to breathe.

Unable to open the window, Mr Greenwood swam back to his truck to get an axe and managed to smash his way in to the car to rescue the man.

“When I was smashing the window, I was sort of scared that he was going to go under, because he was on the opposite side of the car,” Mr Greenwood told the Cairns Post.

The man was uninjured from the ordeal and offered to buy Mr Greenwood dinner for saving him.

Bystanders told Sam Greenwood they saw the windscreen wipers operating on the car. Photo: Facebook/ Sam Greenwood

Mr Greenwood, also a keen fisherman, posted photos to Facebook on Thursday and warned other motorists to steer clear of floodwater.

"Never thought i would say this but if its flooded DONT floor it," he wrote.

The electrician swam out to the car to save the driver. Photo: Facebook/ Sam Greenwood

Floodwaters are still rising in north Queensland with roads cut, schools closed and authorities looking to fly supplies into isolated communities.

Communities between Cairns and Townsville have been swamped by 200 to 250mm of rain over the past 24 hours, and Ingham, north of Townsville, is braced for what could be its worst flood since 2009.

The latest deluge comes on top of days of heavy rainfall that's left the ground sodden, and rivers swollen.

At least 14 schools and one child care centre in north and far north Queensland will remain closed on Friday.

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