High praise for brave actions


A MOUNT Eliza man who risked serious injury in freeing the driver of a crashed and burning cement truck at McCrae in 2016 has been awarded a medal “for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances”.

Joshua Allan Downes was among 29 people honoured for their courage by Governor-General David Hurley on Wednesday 26 August.

Mr Downes was driving along the Mornington Peninsula freeway at 7am, 16 May, when he saw that a cement truck had left the freeway, crashed into trees and rolled onto its side.

He pulled his car over and rushed through thick scrub and bent and broken trees to the truck. The driver, whose legs were trapped under the dashboard, was screaming for help as the cabin began to catch fire.

An explosion then threw Mr Downes back and he thought the driver may have been killed. With the cabin filling with black smoke, he heard the man again screaming for help.

He called for bystanders from nearby homes to get their garden hoses and then directed the water into the cabin. Flames were beginning to reach the driver, but this quick action meant the fire was contained.

Mr Downes climbed down into the cabin to comfort the driver until paramedics and emergency services crews arrived and the man was freed.

In praising these brave actions, the Governor-General said: “On behalf of all Australians, I would like to congratulate and thank the individuals being recognised today. Their deeds and selflessness are inspirational.

“[They] didn’t wake up in the morning and decide that they would be brave – each was faced with an unexpected situation and made a conscious choice, in the moment, to turn towards the danger and help others.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 1 September 2020


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