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Couple Criticised After River Rescue

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 20 NZPA - Authorities have criticised a couple who drove a 4WD drive into a swollen Manawatu river to clean it and had to be rescued.

The 19-year-old driver and 24-year-old female passenger, both from the Ohakea Air Force Base, had to climb on to the roof of the submerged Toyota Hilux in the middle of the Rangitikei River, near Bulls, on Friday night and use a mobile phone to call for help.

Police, staff from the nearby air force base, and Palmerston North's Rescue Emergency Support Team went to the scene and rescued the pair by inflatable raft.

The pair told police they had been driving the 4WD along the water's edge to clean the vehicle but the water took hold and they drifted into the middle of the fast-flowing river and became stranded.

Palmerston North Search and Rescue Co-ordinator Andy Brooke said the driver made a "bad call" when he decided to drive into the river.

"Youth with toys will always push the boundaries. Trying to drive through the river wasn't an intelligent thing to be doing with the current moving so quickly," he told The Herald on Sunday.

Mr Brooke said darkness and treacherous conditions made the rescue difficult.

"That amount of water moving at that height and speed could have taken them away very easily," he Brooke said.

Police Sergeant Mike Lawton of Feilding said the 4WD remained in the river and its owners would have to retrieve it.

The pair were feeling "a little embarrassed" and were very lucky, he said.


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