Exclusive footage obtained by 9News shows the Monday morning rescue in which a man was trapped for almost an hour on the same Glenorie road where another man, a Pakistani national, was unable to free himself from his car on Wednesday.
Both incidents have raised questions about the placement of floodgates on Cattai Ridge Road, which is sparsely populated near Hidden Valley Lane where the vehicles went off the road.
A local resident who gave his name only as Adam said the water was almost to the window of the stranded ute before a neighbour rescued the driver on Monday.
“My neighbour was up moving stuff to higher ground in his bobcat and a car had gone off — a ute had gone off in the same corner,” he told 9News.
“It was only that he was up in his bobcat saw the car there and the man had been trapped for an hour so he got in there and ripped it out.”
Wednesday’s incident ended in tragedy, with the driver speaking with emergency services and struggling to get out of his hired Toyota for 35 minutes before the call cut out.
The car, with signs of someone “fighting for their life to get out” but unbroken windows, was found with the man’s body inside about six hours later, leaving police investigating whether an electrical failure trapped him.
“We can only speculate again that given what I have seen and the damage to the vehicle that it could very well be that the electrics totally failed, and he was simply unable to escape from the car which is an absolute tragedy,” Detective Inspector Chris Laird said.
“Also, the fact that he was on the phone for so long is even more tragic and is going to form part of our inquiries as to what actually went on in the car and why this tragic accident occurred.
“What more can I say than a man who is possibly about to pass away, he is on the phone and the water is rising.”
They’re also looking into whether the road closures were made visible enough. Police said the man was on his first day on the job as a contractor and unfamiliar with the area and that a padlocked gate meant to block off the road was underwater.
“To have two things like that happen within three days, maybe we should move the flood gates up a bit higher,” Adam said.
“The flood gates are probably at least 20 to 30 metres down the road now.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also confirmed the death in Parliament.
“This is a terribly sad day for that family,” Mr Morrison said.
“We have seen so much over the course of the past year and more as this country has battled so many things – floods, fires, viruses, drought and now these floods again.
“And now this family will get this news and they will grieve.”