‘Without them, I am not living’: Truckie’s incredible thanks
Charlie Thilakarathna thought he was dead.
But by a stroke of incredible luck and the desperate effort of two men he dearly wants to thank, Charlie is alive to tell his story.
The truck driver of five years is, by his own words, "not so good" as he recovers in Mackay Base Hospital.
He has been there since Sunday morning after he was pulled from the crumpled cabin of his B-double truck that went over the Bakers Creek bridge and into the water below.
"At the moment, yeah, not so good but still alive," he said.
"I didn't see … at that time, I didn't see anyone, I blacked out.
"But I want to thank those two guys. I heard two people at the scene screaming."
Those men, Fraser Lewis and a backpacker named Thomas, pulled Charlie from the cabin inside which he was suspended by his seatbelt.
They raced the incoming tide that threatened to swallow the truck that was partially submerged in the water after it veered off the Bruce Highway about 5.20am Sunday.
Charlie was barely 3km from his destination - a depot next to the BP.
"I want to thank these amazing human beings," he said.
"Without them, I am not living.
"That time was at low tide but I think I heard people saying it's coming up."
Mr Lewis and Thomas got Charlie out of the truck and to the relative safety of a sandbar where Queensland Ambulance paramedics assessed him.
A cut above his right eye is glued shut as well as the tip of his nose and bottom lip. Scratches on his left leg are covered and his shoulders and chest are sore.
"It happened in like milliseconds," he said.
"The last moment, when I go down into the river … I thought it was going to be the end.
"There's more than 50 tonnes behind me."
Charlie has driven the Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Mackay almost weekly, and has driven trucks for the past five years.
The Forest Lake man said truck driving was his passion and he would be back behind the wheel when he could.
At the moment, though, his focus was recovery and thanking everyone involved in his rescue including paramedics, hospital staff and the people who swam through the croc-infested waters.
"Yeah thanks to be here; it's a miracle," he said.
"I don't know how to explain but I am here because of all the people who helped me."
Mackay Forensic Crash Unit investigations are continuing into the crash that damaged the bridge and closed the Bruce Highway for more than 18 hours on Sunday.
"The truck will be recovered from the creek for examination as part of the investigation," police said.
"Forensic Crash unit are continuing to investigate the cause of the crash.
"Anyone who witnessed the crash or has dashcam footage from the area is urged to contact police."