Hero Coffs Harbour towie Deon Atkins.
Hero Coffs Harbour towie Deon Atkins. Trevor Veale

Hero towie honoured for saving woman's life

STOPPED at a red light, tow truck driver Deon Atkins said he knew a serious crash had just unfolded.

That turn of events placed him among the first on scene and in the position to save a woman's life.

As The Advocate reported in January, Deon climbed into the wreckage of a crushed car on the Pacific Highway where the 58-year-old female driver lay unconsious slumped at the wheel.

Relying on his training as a former firefighter, Deon performed first aid on the woman, clearing her airways and reviving her prior to paramedics arriving on scene.

The Holden Astra had been t-boned at the South Coffs intersection by a Nissan Navara towing a horse float after the sedan pulled out of Thompsons Rd in front of the southbound 4WD, police said.

Praised by Coffs Harbour paramedics on the day of the crash, Deon has three months on been presented with a prestigious Highway Guardian Award by the Australian Transport Association, one of the highest honours bestowed by the national trucking industry.

"It is a humbling honour and one I wasn't expecting," Deon, the hero towie from North Coast Towing said.

"Having been in the emergency services, I just reacted the way I have been trained," the former Coffs Harbour Fire and Rescue firefighter of 29-years experience explained.

"On that day I was sitting at the Hurley Dr lights after having just dropped off a car on a routine job and was on my way home after finishing that job.

Scenes from the two vehicle crash in January on the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour.
Scenes from the two vehicle crash in January on the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour. Frank Redward

"Looking down the highway I saw all the debris and dust going everywhere down at that intersection.

"I knew it was a serious crash and that's how I found myself on scene, in the right place at the right time," Deon said

"Yeah I guess if I never got that red light I wouldn't have been on scene so quickly.

"A few weeks ago, I was in Woolworths and the woman's daughter came up to me to say thank you for saving her mum's life, it was a special thing, and I'm honoured by this recognition."

This isn't the first time Deon has performed a lifesaving rescue in his six years as a local tow truck driver.

It has been noted by our readers, that Deon rescued a woman from a flooded car in Argyll St, Coffs Harbour in 2009 and later helped a woman from an overturned vehicle at Sapphire.

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