An Australian man became trapped in a boggy dam with just his nose above the water for several hours and lived to tell the tale.
Daniel Miller, 45, was riding his excavator to tend to plants at his property in Charlotte Bay, a remote part of New South Wales, when the dam’s edge collapsed. The three-ton machine fell into the dam and a bar pinned Miller’s back down so that only his face was above the surface of the water.
Miller contorted his body, heavily arching his back to keep most of his face above the water. After several hours, a neighbor 500 meters away heard his calls for help, and rescue teams arrived to free him.
In an interview with Australia’s 9 News, Miller said that thinking about his wife and daughters kept him alive:
“I was thinking about how my family is going to find me face down in the dam dead on my property, so that wasn’t going to happen—not without a fight.
I didn’t have time to jump clear so I kind of rode the machine down hoping I would be alright. I hit the water and went under. The next thing I feel is the roll bar come across my back, the dam was very soft, very muddy.
I thought s–t I got to get the surface, so I pushed my arms up into the mud and grabbed a mouth full of air. Back pinned, arms up, machine still running.
The first thing I thought is, ‘I told [my wife] I wouldn’t die first’,” he said.
Miller, an avid surfer, said he used his arms as struts to hold his head above water, as though he was doing a push-up.
“I went into an almost robotic state and thought ‘just count to 60, move my arms, readjust’, and just wait and try and be calm and logical. I watched a cricket climb across a piece of grass for two hours.
I was trapped and had to keep my head up above water using my arms. I guess it was the cobra position. I’m not a yogi but I guess you could say yoga saved my life. That and the will to live.”
Fire and Rescue New South Wales deputy captain Steve Howard said, “How he kept his back arched with his nose above the waterline was quite incredible for that amount of time.”
After he was rescued, Miller was taken to a hospital by helicopter. He was treated for hypothermia and minor back injuries.
“Dan is ok!. It was literally sheer mental strength and determination to survive that got him through. As well as being fit, strong and healthy. Nothing to do with luck. Legendary effort from a legendary man.”