Cerberus to the rescue on the Monash Freeway

Published on FLTLT Marina Lysenko (author), PTE Michael Currie (photographer)

Location(s): Lang Lang, Vic

Topic(s): HMAS Cerberus, Operation COVID-19 ASSIST

R-L: Petty Officer Boatswain Shannon Schonewille; Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Alex Patterson; Seaman Boatswains Mate Jaxan Stead; and Seaman Boatswains Mate (training) Duncan Watson stepped beyond their Operation COVID-19 ASSIST duties when they stopped to give first aid and direct traffic at a car accident on the Monash Freeway, in Victoria. (photo: Private (P) Michael Currie)
R-L: Petty Officer Boatswain Shannon Schonewille; Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Alex Patterson; Seaman Boatswains Mate Jaxan Stead; and Seaman Boatswains Mate (training) Duncan Watson stepped beyond their Operation COVID-19 ASSIST duties when they stopped to give first aid and direct traffic at a car accident on the Monash Freeway, in Victoria.

A four-person Navy team from HMAS Cerberus deployed on Operation COVID-19 ASSIST has saved the life of a Melbourne resident.

In transit to a shift assisting Victoria Police at a control point in Lang Lang, Petty Officer Shannon Schonewille, Leading Seaman Alexander Patterson, Seaman Jaxan Stead and Seaman Rhys Watson witnessed an emergency incident.

“We witnessed a serious car crash on the Monash Freeway,” Leading Seaman Patterson said.

“The car over-corrected, spun out of control and smashed into a concrete barrier at about 100 kilometres per hour.”

Without hesitation the Navy team pulled over to help.

Seaman Patterson said he phoned for help while the rest of the team assessed the situation.

“I called 000 while the guys were giving first aid,” Leading Seaman Patterson said

“It was a big hit and the airbags went off, so the driver and passenger were in bad shape and in shock.”

Petty Officer Schonewille said he helped the driver the best he could.

“When the driver got out of the car, she collapsed on the road,” he said.

“She fell in the way of oncoming traffic so I carried her out of harm’s way and into the safety of my vehicle.

“I had to move her quickly as she wasn’t responding and other cars were coming straight at us at high speeds.”

Quick-thinking Seaman Stead and Seaman Watson grabbed their high-vis gear from their car and started directing traffic around the scene.

With no formal traffic management training, the sailors relied on their newly acquired skills working alongside Victoria Police.

“We learned about traffic management watching police direct people,” Seaman Watson said.

Petty Officer Schonewille said the team did a great job and was proud of the way they responded to the high-stress situation quickly and efficiently.

“Even though we are supporting the state government’s response to COVID-19, we are always ready for whatever life throws at us,” Petty Officer Schonewille said.