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Tasmanian Words: The Best Laid Plans

Rita tells a story which involves a dramatic rescue, and an arrest.

The howl of the wind was quite daunting as it rocked the car from side to side. Rain lashed against the windscreen, the wipers hardly moving against the weight of the water bearing down on them. The car continued to creep along the coastal road. There were steep cliffs on one side. The car's lights were on full beam. Looking for somewhere to pull over until the rain and wind let up David said, "I'm afraid Dawn, this weather appears to be getting worse. We must stop for the night."

"No, we must go on. It's imperative I get to Clifton jetty tonight. I am meeting someone.''

She set her mouth stubbornly drawing her finely plucked eyebrows into a frown. Her her hands made nervous movements, clenching and unclenching in her lap. David glanced at her but said nothing as he endeavoured to keep his eyes on the road which by now was like a river cascading towards them. He regreted having agreed to give his neighbour a lift when she had knocked on his door earlier that afternoon saying that her car was laid up and she had an urgent appointment up the coast and could he help her.

Just then they passed over the crest of a hill and down into a valley. The car lights picked up the gleam of water shining on the road. Before David realised its depth they had plunged into a raging torrent of water which swirled around them. Immediately the car stalled. It was impossible to open the doors as the water was too high.

"That's done it!" cried David, his honest, open face showing worry and consternation. "I'll try my mobile and ring 000."

He received a faint response so he explained their position.

"All we can do is sit and wait and hope someone can get to us."

Dawn was frantic. "What a thing to happen!" she gasped.

David wound down the car windows.

"When the water reaches the window level we'll have to get out and climb on to the roof We may have to swim for it. Pass me the torch from the side pocket please. We will probably need it to signal our whereabouts."

They sat in silence for some time. Then David said, "This is it. We'll have to get out. It's a good thing I still have the roof rack on. It will give us some leverage. I'll go first and then I can help pull you up."

He managed to wriggle out of the window and get hold of the roof rack, his muscles straining against the wind as he pulled himself up.

"Now you, Dawn," he called and with his help she too clambered on the roof. As they sat there holding on with all their might, soaked through and windblown, they heard the sound of an engine. Dawn spotted it first. "It's a helicopter!" David took the torch from inside his jacket and shone it around in small circles. "They've seen us," he said thankfully as looking up in the now dark sky, he could see a man being let down on a winch.

Dawn still looked terrified. "I'll take the lady first and then come back for you sir."

Dawn was raised slowly to the safety of the helicopter and then David followed. After a short journey they were set down on the helipad. Two policemen crossed the bitumen.

"Dawn McGinty, we are arresting you and taking you in to be questioned. Your partner in the yacht had to send up a flare for a rescue as he was drifting on to the rocks in the storm. We recognised the yacht as one which had been coming in regularly and then leaving the country immediately after the robbery of antique shops. We found evidence of this on board and he confessed and involved you as accomplice. We have reason to believe that you are carrying a quantity of antique jewelry on your person.

David looked bewildered but one of the policemen said to him, "Our car will take you to the hotel where you will be provided with dry clothes and a bed for the night."

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