The Royal Humane Society of Australia

Press Releases



Thirteen residents of Queensland will be presented with bravery awards of The Royal Humane Society of Australasia:

on Friday 21 May 2021
Brisbane Room, Level 1
Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane
at 1.00pm

The awards, One Gold Medal, Four Silver Medals, Seven Bronze Medals and One Certificate of Merit will be presented by The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor Adrian Schrinner.

The awards recognize the following:

  • The rescue of a woman from an armed assailant at Forest Lake
  • The rescue of a man from a crashed and burning car at Malanda
  • The rescue of a woman who had doused herself in petrol at Eimeo
  • The rescue of a man from a submerged bus in Cairns
  • The rescue of five people from drowning in the Mary River, Maryborough
  • The rescue of a man from a crashed and burning car at Gympie
  • The rescue of a woman from an armed assailant at Karana Downs
  • The rescue of a woman from an armed assailant at Home Hill
  • The rescue of a suicidal man from an LPG gas bottle explosion at Bowen

Members of the media wishing to attend are requested to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled commencement of the presentation.

The formal elements of the presentations are normally of about 40 minutes duration.

Media interviews and photographs (by mutual agreement with recipient) would take place after the presentation ceremony.

Note: The Royal Humane Society of Australasia, formed in 1874,is concerned with giving public recognition to acts of braveryby making awards to those who risktheir own lives to savethe lives of others.
Over 8,585 awards have been made in the Society’s 146 years’ history.


To receive the Bronze Medal:

1. KYLE PATRECH, custodial corrections officer, aged 23 years, of Greenbank, Qld

In going to the rescue of a woman from being assaulted by an armed assailant on 4 March 2018 at Forest Lake.

At 8.15pm Mr Patrech went in his car to a nearby residence when he heard a loud verbal argument between a man and a woman including threats to kill.

Mr Patrech saw two women and one man in the driveway. One of the women was on the ground beneath the man clutching her head. She managed to escape and started to run up the street signalling for help. Mr Patrech pulled his car over to assist the woman.

The man followed the woman and Mr Patrech got out of his car and stepped in front of the man and told him to go back into the house to which the man complied. The distressed woman then became aggressive and began to yell at the man.

The woman then proceeded to enter the house and went to the kitchen where the man was packing his belongings into a bag. The man then left the house and the woman followed him and theyboth continued to show aggression towards each other. Mr Patrech continued to follow them.

Once they reached a park the man pulled out a knife from the bag of belongings with his right hand and held it in Mr Patrech’s direction as Mr Patrech was standing in close proximity to act as a barrier between the man and woman. Mr Patrech stepped in closer and gripped the man’s hand. He applied an arm bar and directed the man to drop the knife multiple times before it was dropped.


To Receive the Bronze Medal:

2. JOVEN TORIBO ESTRADA, aged 26 years, of Edmonton, Qld

In going to the rescue of a man from his crashed and burning car on the Old Cairns Track, Malanda on 7 March 2019.

At 2.30pm a driver lost control of his vehicle which caused the car to it hit several mid-size trees located on the edge of the dirt road. The collision caused the car to ignite.

Mr Estrada came across the accident soon after it occurred and saw that the crashed vehicle was fully alight. Thedriver of the car was trapped inside as he was unable to extricate himself from the vehicle due to a physical disability.

Mr Estrada approached the burning vehicle and helped pull the driver out of the car and onto the ground to safety before the car wastotally burnt out.


To Receive the Bronze Medal:

3. CECELIA ANN JARVIS, police officer, aged 29 years

In going to the rescue of a woman who had doused herself in petrol at Eimeo, Qld on 23 February 2019.

At 2.00pm Constable Jarvis and Sgt Heyworth attended the scene and after some negotiations the woman unlocked the front door and allowed Const Jarvis and Sgt Heyworth inside where they immediately detected a strong smell of petrol.

The woman then went to the garage which was connected to the house and sat on the concrete floor beside an opened jerry can. After some coaxing she showed Const Jarvis that she was holding a lighter in her left hand and there appeared to be liquid most likely petrol all around her.

Sgt Heyworth turned and began to open the loungeroom windows as the petrol fumes were starting to sting his eyes and causing breathing difficulties. He then quickly left the property to obtain a fire extinguisher from the police vehicle.

Const Jarvis noticed that the woman was swaying and becoming light-headed due to the petrol fumes. Const Jarvis walked towards the woman who started tipping the jerry can over herself with her right hand. Const Jarvis leapt towards the womanand tried to grab the lighter out of her left hand. As she grabbed her left arm the woman sparked the lighter and Const Jarvis heard the audible sound of it being lit and saw a flame.

Const Jarvis immediately grabbed the lighter and prevented a fire from being ignited.

Sgt Heyworth ran back into the garage with the fire extinguisher and restrained the woman.

(Unfortunately, Sgt Heyworth was unable to attend the ceremony)


To Receive the Bronze Medal:

4. JOHN WILLIAM DIRK DIJKSTRA, police officer, aged 39 years

In going to the rescue of a man in a submerged bus in Smiths Creek, Cairns on 23 September 2018.

At 6.45pm Snr Const Dijkstra and two other police officers observed a 30-seater tourist bus towing a trailer drive into the creek. The police officers went to assist and it was unknown at that time as to whether there were any passengers on the bus. Within seconds the cabin of the bus became almost fully submerged.

Snr Const Dijkstra immediately removed his utility belt and entered the water to rescue the driver. The other police offices remained on the bank with torches to assist in illuminating the area and to keep a watch for crocodiles.

Snr Const Dijkstra observed the driver’s head bob up from the water briefly, calling for help before disappearing again. The windscreen of the bus was smashed and after a couple of attempts, Snr Const Dijkstra managed to grab hold of the driver and pull him through the windscreen

Snr ConstDijkstra dragged the driver through the mangroves and onto the bank of the creek.


To Receive the Bronze Medal:

5. DREW JORDAN HAROLD,police officer

6. BRUCE JOHN HOLLA, aged 46 years, of Granville, Qld

7. CRAIG BRENDAN McPHILLIPS, aged 46 years, of Silkstone,

In going to the rescue of 5 people from the Mary River, Maryborough on 25 September 2018.

At 11.37am police were advised that a small boat had capsized near the Lamington Bridge and all the occupants had fallen into the river. The boat had floated into the centre of the river and was slowly sinking.

The Mary River is known for its strong currents, unknown debris, bull sharks and the occasional crocodile.

When ConstHarold arrived, the boat was slowly moving away from where the police were located and the only part of the boat that was showing was a small tip at the end with all persons trying to stay afloat.

Const Harold immediately removed his police vest and other equipment and entered the water. He was closely followed by Mr Holla and Mr McPhillips.

They swam 50m to the group. The elderly man was holding onto the side of the boat and the younger man was holding on at the rear of the boat. The younger male washolding his 3 years old son and the two 12 years old children were trying to hold onto the sinking boat. All three children had life jackets on.

Const Harold and Mr Holla decided it was too dangerous to ferry the people to the bank singularly so decidedto get everyone to work together to drag the boat to the bank. Const Harold held the 12 years old girl under her left arm and was holding the boat with the other, whilst Mr Holla had hold of the 12 years old boy. They explained to everyone that they allhad to assist them by kicking. Mr McPhillips assisted in swimming with the boat and pulling it back to shore.

The rescuers eventually got the boat to the side of the bank in amongst the sticks, long grass and mangroves, which was about 150m down river from where they entered the water. One by one Const Harold pushed the children over the upturned boat closer to the bank where there were other people who pulled them from the water.


To receive the Silver Medal:

8. ADAM BENJAMIN WHITEHOUSE, truck driver, aged 52 years, of Gympie, Qld

In going to the rescue of two boys from drowning in Tin Can Bay, Qld on 12 February 2017.

Two boys quickly got into trouble when stepping from the shallow beach into the main channel of water as the outgoing tide was flowing swiftly with strong wind gusts of 19-39km/h.

Mr Whitehouse was walking on the beach at the time and noticed that the boys were in trouble. He entered the water and swam approx. 15m to the boys who were panicking and over a period of approximately 5 minutes Mr Whitehouse managed to tread water, fight a strong tide and exhaustion to keep the boys afloat. This was made more difficult as the boys were climbing over him to stay above water. At times Mr Whitehouse would go under water and then re-emerge to keep the boys afloat.

Another man, Mr Spillman, was on his yacht anchored in the channel in about 30m of water and about 500m from the sand bar noticed Mr Whitehouse struggling with the boys about 300m away. Mr Spillman immediately jumped into his tender vessel a 2.4m aluminium dinghy and quickly got to Mr Whitehouse and the boys. He saw that Mr Whitehouse was holding onto the wrist of a boy who was motionless under the water and the other young boy was clinging onto the back of his neck.

Mr Spillman reached down and grabbed the motionless boy and dragged him into the dinghy. He then turned and grabbed Mr Whitehouse underneath the arm and pulled him towards the dinghy and got his arms up over the side of the vessel and told him to hang on. The other boy also clung onto the boat. Mr Spillman then commenced CPR on the motionless boy in his boat.

He then heard Mr Whitehouse say “he was slipping”. Mr Spillman immediately pulled the other boy into the boat and showed him how to continue providing CPR to the motionless boy. Mr Whitehouse then said “I am exhausted I am gone”. Mr Spillman reached into the water up to his armpit and grabbed Mr Whitehouse and pulled him back up out of the water and then got a rope and wrapped it around Mr Whitehouse’s arm and then his own arm before putting the outboard into gear and motored back to the shore. Mr Whitehouse by this stage was also motionless.

It took Mr Spillman about 3 minutes to get to the shore where others helped to get both boys and Mr Whitehouse onto the beach.

Sadly the 9 years old boy passed away at the scene.

(Mr Spillman was sent a Letter of Commendation for his actions that day).


To Receive the Certificate of Merit:

9. KEVIN ALVA MAYO, police officer, aged 43 years

In going to the rescue of a man from a crashed and burning car at Gympie on 6 June 2018.

At 7.10am a driver depressed both the accelerator and brake and was unable to slow down and proceeded straight through an intersection and his vehicle came to rest on the embankment on the other side. The vehicle then rolled down the embankment on its side with the driver trapped inside.

Mr Girdler witnessed the accident and went to help the trapped driver but was not able to open any of the doors.

When Snr Const Mayo and Const Gardiol arrived at the scene the car had caught fire and flames and smoke was sighted coming outof the vehicle’s bonnet. The vehicle was positioned next to an electric power pole and directly under electrical power lines.

As the car was filled with smoke Const Gardiolsmashed the passenger side window of the vehicle to allow the vehicle’s cabin to vent and the driver to breathe.

Snr Const Mayo and Const Gardiol immediately started to smash the front windscreen with their batons and kicked the windscreen until a hole was made.

Both police offices and Mr Girdler then started pulling the glass away with their hands to make the hole larger to free the trapped driver and finally dragged the driver from the car through the windscreen

All three men suffered cuts from glass imbedded in their hands and suffered some smoke inhalation.

The driver was taken to hospital and made a full recovery.

(Unfortunately, Const Gardiol and Mr Girdler were unable to attend this ceremony)


To Receivethe Silver Medal:

10. ESIRA SALUSALU, aged 18 years, of Karana Downs, Qld

In going to the rescue of his step-mother from being stabbed on 14 August 2017 at Forest Lake, Qld

At about 3.30am a man attended the house of his ex-partner and his children. He spoke to his son Mr Salusalu and told him his citizenship papers were inside the house and he wanted to get them.

Mr Salusalu let his father into the house. The man went directly to the kitchen and grabbed a knife and entered the rear bedroom where his ex-partner was sleeping with their one years old child. The man then stabbed the woman in the head with the knife.

The woman managed to get out of bed and go into the ensuite and grabbed her phone to try to call the police. Her ex-partner followedher and continued to stab her in the head with the knife at which time the blade of the knife broke off.

Mr Salusalutried to defend his step-mother and was subsequently stabbed by his father in the arm and also had his hand slashed by the knife.

The man left the address and Mr Salusalu called 000 and QAS transport and Mr Salusalu and his step mother were taken to hospital.


To Receive the Gold Medal:

11. GRANT SCHOLZ, of Bowen, Qld

In going to the rescue of a woman from being stabbed by a man at Home Hill, Qld on 23 August 2016.

At approximately 11.06pm a man staying at the Home Hill Backpackers hostel dragged a woman from her bed at knife point, holding her from behind with the knife to her throat. He then took her outside the room.

The man then yelled out “You better get out here, I have a knife to this girl’s neck”. Mr Richards, who was in the next door room immediately went outside and was confronted by the man with the knife and holding the woman about 1m away. The night manager, Mr Scholz had also been alerted to the yelling and was also about 1m from the man.

Mr Richards pleaded with the man to put the knife down.

The man then started to stab the woman and fell to the ground with her. Mr Richards and Mr Scholz attempted to approach the man and Mr Scholz received a cut to his lower leg requiring in excess of 100 stitches. Mr Scholz was initially unaware that the man had a knife.

Mr Richards then started yelling for assistance and this distracted the man sufficiently for the woman to get to her feet and run several metres away to the bathroom at the top of the stairs of the northern staircase. Mr Richards and Mr Scholz exited the first floor via the northern stairway.

Another person staying at the hostel, Mr Jackson, was alerted to the condition of the woman by Mr Richards downstairs and both returned to the first-floor bathroom to render assistance.

Meanwhile Mr Scholz had alerted the owner/manager of the incident and they arrived in the courtyard and the police were contacted.

At 11.12pm they were chased from the courtyard area by the man holding the knife. They fled through a front gate which they closed behind them.

Mr Jackson exited the bathroom to check on the progress of the arrival of paramedics and then went back intothe bathroom and closed the door with an internal lock.

The man returned to the first floor via the northern stairway. Mr Jackson then exited the bathroom and pleaded with the man to calm down so they could assist the woman.

The man grabbed Mr Jackson and stabbed him multiple times. The man then left the bathroom with the knife in his hand and returned to his room.

Mr Richards exited the bathroom but remained in the vicinity calling for help from the top of the stairs.

At 11.20pm the police arrived and after some confrontation the man was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Sadly the woman was pronounced deceased and Mr Jackson was transported to Townsville General Hospital but sadly passed away on 2 September 2016.

(Mr Jackson was awarded The Posthumous Medal and Mr Richards the Silver Medal of the Society.

Mr Jackson and Mr Richards were overseas tourists at the time.

Mr Jackson’s parents will be presented with his Posthumous Medal in the UK and Mr Richards will be presented with his Silver Medal in Wales.)


To Receive the Silver Medal:

12. WILLIAM ATWOOD, Police officer

13. KIMBERLEY MURPHY, Police officer

In going to the rescue of a suicidal man from an LPG gas bottle explosion at Bowen, Qld on 12 December 2015.

At 8.15pm Consts Atwood and Murphy attended the address and proceeded up the stairs to a unit and could detect the smell of gas and heard the sound of what they believed to be gas being emitted from a cylinder within the unit.

Both officers gave a verbal command to the occupant to turn off the gas and leave the unit and if this advice was not followed they would force entry.

At 8.18pm Const Atwood gained entry to the front door by kicking it inwards. Both police offices then began to walkthrough the doorway when a large explosion occurred. The blast threw both police officers 3m backwards to the top of the stairs.

Const Murphy re-entered the unit and gave verbal commands to a man who was standing in the middle of the lounge room to get out of the unit which was by then on fire. The man was screaming in pain due to being badly burnt but he still refused to leave. Const Murphy left the unit due to the heat of the flames and Const Atwood then entered the unit to attempt to get the man outbut was also unable to due to the heat and flames.

They finally managed to coax the man out of the unit and got him down the stairs.

Consts Atwood and Murphy then evacuated the rest of the complex and tended to the badly burnt man.

As a result of this incident Const Murphy suffered 2nddegree burns to her arms, hands and upper chest as well as burns to her face and required specialist medical treatment.

Const Atwood received 1stdegree burns to his arms and face as well as singeing of the hair on hisarms and face.

Sadly the man died in hospital the following day.