‘That was the hardest thing for me, I couldn’t get her out’
THEY were just innocent passers-by, but Darrin Collier and Lisa Elmas risked their own lives to try and save the Falkholt family who were involved in a horrific car crash that will be forever etched in Australia's memory.
The brave motorists pulled Home and Away actor Jessica Falkholt and her sister Annabelle from a burning wreck after their car, also carrying the girls' parents, crashed at Sussex Inlet on the NSW South Coast on Boxing Day.
Lars and Vivian Falkholt were killed instantly when Craig Whitall's 4WD slammed into their car on the Princes Highway outside Ulladulla, while Annabelle, 21, died in hospital three days later on December 29.
Whitall, a serial traffic offender, was also killed in the horror smash.
Actor Jessica passed away on January 17, six days after her life support was switched off at St George Hospital. The 29-year-old was in intensive car since the horrific head-on Boxing Day crash.
Lisa Elmas was driving along the stretch of the Princes Highway and saw the entire accident as she was coming around the corner. Ms Elmas jumped out of her car and bravely pulled Annabelle and Jessica from the blazing car.
"Jessica was put on a blanket and she was carried back away from the vehicles. Annabelle, we moved her back, I put her down, I spoke to her, I reassured her I'd come back … and I went to try and get her mum out. That was probably the hardest for me because I couldn't get her out," Ms Elmas said.
"I looked at her (Annabelle), I held her face and I said help is on it's way, stay calm I'm here with you. Hopefully I gave her as much comfort as I possibly could."
"I didn't set out to do anything, I just wanted to help the people that were in need at the time.
"I've seen car crashes before, but nothing to that magnitude. It was horrific. Life is short and that's a family taken away," Darrin Collier said.
Lisa and Darrin was today awarded a Pride of Australia medal for their outstanding acts of heroism as the ceremony at Sydney Opera House along.
They include ordinary Australians thrust into life-and-death situations, courageous police officers, selfless individuals dedicated to protecting animals and devastated families fighting for change and justice.
This is the 13th annual Pride of Australia awards, Inspired by the Liberty Medal established by the New York Post in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Pride of Australia underpins the notion there is no greater measure of a society's strength than its ability to recognise, learn from and reward its true heroes.
"It's nice for my children, as they saw me grieving and down, they can see mum did a good thing. I just hope I'd be able to do something like that again," Ms Elmas said.