Brave Gin Gin cop recalls flood rescue
DANIEL Lukan loves being a small town cop.
It's the kind of job that lets him bond with his community, make great mates and raise his three kids in a safe and healthy atmosphere.
A couple of years ago, Senior Constable Lukan was based at Gin Gin, a town of 2000 people where not a lot usually happens.
But on Australia Day 2013 the sleepy village became a chaotic mess. In just a few short hours Mother Nature unleashed her fury, dumping about 1000mm of rain across the region.
Snr Const Lukan and his colleague, Senior Constable David Rofe, were patrolling near a rest area alongside Gin Gin Creek when they found five people trying desperately to leave the area.
It was 9.50pm, pitch black and the water was rapidly rising.
"When we first went out there the water was lapping the ground and within minutes it was up to the bonnets of the cars - that's how fast it was," Snr Const Lukan says.
"These people were trapped with their vehicles - we knew they wouldn't last long if we didn't get them out."
The police officers - who were in a four-wheel drive - made the tourists get in their much smaller sedans and tried to lead them out of danger.
"But water came up higher and higher and swamped their vehicles," Snr Const Lukan said.
"First one set of headlights disappeared, then the other set disappeared.
"We were able to get out but they had to stay there in the cars."
The senior constable flagged down a passing truck, which drove into the floodway to rescue the tourists.
The truck stalled but the five people were able to crawl across the trailer and into the cabin.
Snr Const Lukan left his colleague with the tourists and headed to a nearby service station where he commandeered Bakers Creek driver Peter Tully and his prime mover to help drag the other truck out of danger.
"To be honest I was that close to dropping my gun belt and diving out the window to save them but I thought 'If I go and get washed away, then they will be looking for me too'."
Now based at South Kolan, the 12-year police veteran said it was a night he would never forget.
"It was hard going to bed and to sleep afterwards - I was cold, very wet, even my handcuffs got rusty," he said.
On Wednesday Snr Const Lukan received a special reminder of that night when he received a Royal Humane Society of Australasia certificate of merit for his bravery that evening.
However, he said he was just doing his job
"It's good to be recognised but I just know that as police we collectively do a lot of things like this all of the time.
"It's hard to isolate out instances - I've seen a lot of police do some very good things, but no one ever gets to hear about it."