Three police officers are being hailed as heroes after pulling to safety a man who deliberately drove his car into Perth’s Swan River in a bizarre Sunday morning incident.
The man, who is yet to be identified, was seen driving his white Hyundai sedan along a footpath to the edge of the water at the popular Barrack Street jetty in the heart of the city at around 10.30am.
Police said after stopping the vehicle, and placing some personal items including an empty jerry can on the jetty side, the man got back into his car, accelerated hard and ploughed through a temporary fence.
At speed, the car hit rocks at the water’s edge, which catapulted the vehicle metres into the water.
Witnesses reported then seeing the driver treading water in the river as the car sank, before swimming back under the waves and back into the car.
He was submerged inside the car for some minutes, before police arrived, dived in and rescued the man.
They performed immediate resuscitation on the prone driver, before ambulance officers arrived and continued attempting to revive the man.
He was taken to Royal Perth Hospital and is in a critical condition.
Insp. Derek Staats said three police officers had dived into the water to rescue the driver after witnesses told them what happened.
“Clearly the police officers took immediate action on arriving at the scene,” he said. “Once they had established what occurred they dove straight into the water and rescued the driver out of the vehicle.
“So yes their actions are admirable.”
He said he had not yet spoken to the officers so he was unsure how difficult it was to get the man out of the car.
But he said the vehicle had been submerged in up to 4m of water and there was zero visibility.
Police are not yet sure why the man’s car plunged into the river.
But witnesses have told police they saw the driver stop near the end of the jetty and take some items out of the car, which he left on the jetty, before driving again.
“He then got back into the car and accelerated heavily, because witnesses heard squealing of tyres, accelerated heavily and drove off the western end of the Barrack Street Jetty,” Insp Staats said.
He said witnesses reported seeing the man on the surface and out of the vehicle before he went underwater.
The police officers pulled the man from his vehicle.
They did CPR on the jetty before paramedics arrived.
The man was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital where he is in a critical condition.
The incident occurred just metres from the Aquatic Super Series open water swimming event, which is taking place in Perth this weekend.