Selfless acts of bravery of two Hunter men celebrated by the Governor-General

The selfless and brave acts of 22 Australians are being recognised by the Governor-General today including two men from the Hunter region.

Mr Timothy James Brown BM from Thornton has received a Bar to the Bravery Medal for displaying considerable bravery when he pulled a man from a car that crashed on the Pacific Highway at Heatherbrae in June 2020.

A former police officer, Mr Brown saw a vehicle collide with a power pole on the Pacific Highway and ran across four lanes of traffic to the driver.

He was unable to get into the driver side door so he ran to the passenger door but couldn’t get the drivers’ seatbelt free. A fire then started in the footwell behind the driver’s seat and thick black smoke forced Mr Brown out of the vehicle repeatedly for air.

He opened the rear passenger door to release some smoke which is when the driver regained consciousness. Mr Brown was handed a knife from a bystander and another person appeared with a fire extinguisher.

Re-entering the vehicle, Mr Brown saw the fire had engulfed the back of the driver’s seat. He cut the seatbelt, but due to the smoke and extinguisher powder used by the bystander, he had to exit the vehicle again for air. Mr Brown re-entered the car, pulled the driver out and dragged him towards the rear of the vehicle, where others dragged the driver to safety.

Struggling to breathe, Mr Brown collapsed and was dragged away from the burning vehicle. Mr Brown and the victim were transported to hospital for treatment, where he was and treated for smoke inhalation and leg lacerations, and the victim treated for serious injuries.

It’s the second time Mr Brown has been recognised for his bravery, and he is just the third person in Australia to receive a Bar to the Bravery Medal.

The second man to be recognised is Mr Dean Richard Barrett from Kahibah who has been honoured with a Commendation for Brave Conduct for saving a man during a dive session.

In January 2012 Mr Barrett was leading a scuba diving session in Port Stephens when he saw a fellow diver struggling. The diver indicated he didn’t want to abort, but Mr Barrett stayed close to the diver who not long after showed signs of confusion and instability, with flailing arms and clear buoyancy issues.

Mr Barrett assisted the diver to the vessel boat line, however, the diver lost consciousness and ascended quickly, resulting in an inability to perform decompression.

Mr Barrett ascended to reach the diver, despite the risks of decompression injuries. Mr Barrett and the unconscious diver reached the surface, and Mr Barrett lifted him onto the dive vessel.

The diver regained consciousness and Mr Barrett rendered first aid for decompression injuries. Mr Barrett then provided his oxygen bottle to the victim as he was struggling to breathe.

Through his actions in assisting the injured diver, Mr Barrett suffered multiple decompression related injuries.