Australia

Pond ordeal survivor describes 'euphoric' rescue

Australian man Daniel Miller is pulled from a dam by a fire and rescue team Image copyright Saimaa Miller
Image caption The moment Daniel Miller was pulled from the water

Daniel Miller, the yoga-inspired builder trapped in an Australian waterhole, was rescued just in time.

The 45-year-old man's back was bruised, his lungs were full of diesel and hydraulic fluid, and he feared pneumonia was setting in.

He laughed, swore and thought to himself: "God, is this how I'm going to die, in a fricking pond?"

The father of two fought panic as he digested his predicament of being pinned beneath an excavator on his remote property.

He tried to dig his way out, but it didn't work - he descended further. The water was up past his chin.

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To see his wife and children again he must keep his nose above water, he thought. Conserving energy was key.

"I just thought it would be so tragic for my kids to come home and see their dad dead in a dam," Mr Miller told the BBC. "I couldn't do that to them."

Image copyright Saimaa Miller
Image caption Saimaa Miller described her husband as a "legendary man"

The family had made a home for themselves on the coastal property at Charlotte Bay, a three-and-a-half hour drive from Sydney.

Their nearest neighbour was 500m (1,640ft) away. In all likelihood, Mr Miller thought, they wouldn't be home for hours.

He rammed his hands into the mud, pushed himself up, arched his back into a yoga position - the cobra - and counted to 60.

Yoga was something he learned from his naturopath wife, Saimaa.

"I surf. I'm getting old. I'm almost forced to do it by Saimaa," Mr Miller said. "I'm not a yogi at all."

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Media captionDaniel Miller: "I watched a cricket climb up a piece of grass"

Stretching typically kept his stiffness at bay. This time, it would do far more than that.

"I pushed up and yelled and yelled and yelled," he said. "Went back down, breathed through my nose, pushed up again and yelled and yelled and yelled."

Finally his neighbour heard his cries and rescue crews raced to the property. He said the feeling of being freed was "euphoric".

"I knew then I was going to live," he said. "That was the first time I knew 100%."

Image copyright Saimaa Miller
Image caption Mr Miller has thanked rescue crews for saving him

While Mr Miller recovered in hospital, his story made headlines around the world. Friends joked that one website in Japan called him "turtle man".

After rest and further treatment on his back, Mr Miller plans to return to the landscaping project he started.

"Life rolls on - I'm so happy to be alive," he said. "I cherish it more than ever."

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