Truck driver Jason Bowditch, centre, catches up with Dave Holmes, left, and Rob Skewes, who saved him from his flaming wreck after he crashed on the Bruce Highway near the Ettamogah Pub. Hebroke three vertebrae in his back and was scalped in the accident, but only three days later he checked out of hospital. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily
Truck driver Jason Bowditch, centre, catches up with Dave Holmes, left, and Rob Skewes, who saved him from his flaming wreck after he crashed on the Bruce Highway near the Ettamogah Pub. Hebroke three vertebrae in his back and was scalped in the accident, but only three days later he checked out of hospital. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily Brett Wortman

Brave pair pulled driver from flaming wreck

RUNNING towards a burning vehicle is not something many people would consider doing.

But David Holmes and Robert Skewes are not ordinary people.

The duo will receive Australian Bravery Awards today in recognition of their actions to save the life of truck driver Jason Bowditch when his tanker truck and two trailers crashed into a culvert and burst into flames on the Bruce Hwy on August 29, 2011.

Mr Holmes and Mr Skewes had been driving southbound behind the truck in separate vehicles when they saw the tanker drift off the road, roll several times and explode on impact, scattering debris.

Mr Skewes, of Sippy Downs, will receive a bravery medal for acting swiftly to pull Mr Bowditch out of the burning cabin by the hips and Mr Holmes, of Palmwoods, will receive a Commendation for Brave Conduct for helping to drag the severely injured driver about 20 metres to safety at the edge of the road to await paramedics.

The accident may have occurred almost three years ago, but Mr Holmes said he drove past the crash site near Sippy Downs on his way to work most days and often had flashbacks.

"It was like being in the Fast and the Furious or something," he said.

"As soon as I saw it happen, I braked and had pretty much dialled 000 before I had finished watching the accident.

"Rob came over to my car and we could just hear a voice from the truck and we just ran towards the truck. We didn't even think twice about it."

The 34-year-old said he was "pretty honoured" to receive the award and was looking forward to telling his close family and friends today. Mr Skewes, 53, was a bit more reserved.

"I don't think I did anything extraordinary or anything like that," he said.

"It's just the Australian thing to do. You see someone in trouble and you do all you can. That's about all I did."

Mr Bowditch, who suffered three fractured vertebrae, a "scalped" forehead and minor burns to his hands and feet, was able to thank his rescuers while recovering at Nambour Hospital.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove paid homage to the recipients of the Star Of Courage, 22 bravery medals, 44 commendations for brave conduct and 11 group bravery citations.

"To these recipients, I offer my warmest congratulations and express my sincere admiration for your brave actions," Mr Cosgrove said.

"We are fortunate as a community and as a nation to benefit from your contribution, and it is fitting that you will be recognised by the Australian honours system.

"You now join the company of men and women whose actions have enriched our community and whose values we hold dear."


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