STORY LIZ McCORMICK
What started out as a fun outing to Nethercote Falls on a sunny autumn day on March 23 may have ended in tragedy were it not for the quick-thinking of Pambula Beach lad, Cooper Woods, 12.
Cooper went to the waterfall with his friend Amalia Plevey, 13, also from Pambula Beach, his younger brother Kobi, 4, and Louise Blincow, the Woods’ family au pair.
Disaster struck when Amalia climbed up a rock face above the waterfall, lost her footing and spiralled into the pool at the bottom hitting the rock face a number of times on the way down and knocking herself unconscious.
Cooper noticed that Amalia’s head had not surfaced and drawing on his Nipper skills spontaneously leapt off the 10-metre high ledge into the water, swam to her, grabbed her and pulled her up to the surface and lifted her head out of the water. He then managed to bring her to the water’s edge which proved a bit of a challenge given Amalia is of a much bigger build than Cooper.
A couple of tourists within earshot heard Cooper‘s call for help. Ms Blincow, who had heard Amalia’s screams and one of the tourists waded into the pool to assist Cooper who was valiantly supporting Amalia by hanging on to a submerged rock. The tourists called emergency services and while waiting for their arrival Cooper helped administer first aid.
Cooper has been nominated anonymously for Pride of Australia Medal in the Child of Courage category for his heroic act. He is a finalist in the category. The winner will be announced in Sydney on September 25 and Cooper will be there.
Amalia was helicoptered out by Snowy Hydro Southcare Helicopter after they winched a rescue crew into the remote location. She was flown to the Canberra Hospital with multiple injuries including a broken wrist, thumb, rib and eye socket; her brain was bruised and she required stitches to her leg.
In recounting the rescue last week Cooper said, “My brain clicked and I knew what I had to do.”
He said that it was only after Amalia was out of the water and on the bank that the reality of the gravity of the situation hit him.
“It was then I felt shock and exhaustion,” he said.
Amalia, who was unconscious for most of the ordeal and regained consciousness in Canberra Hospital, understands she owes her life to her friend.
“I gave him a hug and a big thank you for saving me,” she said. “Without his bravery and courage there is every chance I would have drowned. “Cooper did an amazing job and if it was anyone standing there above me as I fell I am so glad that it was him.”
Cooper is the eldest son of Katrina Woods and Matt Topalovic. Ms Woods said: “We feel proud of Cooper, but that is what we would expect of him. We are proud of the fact that he remained calm throughout the ordeal. We are humbled that someone would nominate Cooper for the Australia medal and we are glad that Amalia has fully recovered from her injuries.”
Both Cooper and Amalia are Lumen Christi College students Amalia in Year 8 and Cooper Year 7.
Amalia is the daughter of Francie and David Plevey.
The Pleveys requested that the newspaper provide the contact details of Snowy Hydro Southcare Helicopter to enable people to make a donation to this life-saving service that should never be taken for granted.