A Holbrook man has been awarded for his bravery after rescuing a woman from a burning vehicle.
The planets must have aligned on the day Troy Hughes saved a woman’s life because he wasn’t even meant to be at work.
The day before his heroic act, Mr Hughes found a work colleague dead at his home. The next morning work started with counselling for finding his workmate. Mr Hughes was set to go home but instead got called to the Kyeamba worksite.
After finishing the job he witnessed a crash about 150 metres up the hill.
“I saw stuff fly from the southbound lane to the northbound lane and knew something was going on,” Mr Hughes said.
The driver swerved into the median strip to avoid hitting cars at the roadworks. The car hit a tree and flipped. He sprinted up the steep hill and saw the car upside down with smoke billowing out. As a retained firefighter he knew the situation was serious.
“I could see fuel running down the drain and I knew straight away that it wasn’t a good situation,” he said.
“I didn’t think about my own safety, I didn’t give it a second thought.”
With the car upside down the only way to get the woman out was through the back door.
Just seconds after getting her out of the car and turning around the car exploded. The intense heat and force knocked the wind out of him and he stumbled while his work mates grabbed the girl.
At the same time he tore a pectoral muscle and thought he was having a heart attack. This didn’t stop him giving the woman CPR twice when she stopped breathing and her pulse couldn’t be found.
The incident didn’t leave him unscathed, along with the torn muscle Mr Hughes suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
“For the rest of my life I will be able to recall it like yesterday,” he said.
“I can still smell the fuel going down the drain, I can still see her face screaming in the car.”
Troy Hughes has been presented with a Bravery Medal as part of the Australian Bravery Awards. While he is proud of his actions, he doesn’t feel like a hero.
“I really don’t know how I feel about it. I did something out of instinct and have been awarded for it.”