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THE

 

TO THE VICTORIA & GEORGE CROSS

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

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b. 1958 Molong, New South Wales.

 

DATE OF CV ACTION: 03/05/1996 Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.

 

A Detective Senior Constable in the New South Wales Police from 1977 to 1998. He is one of the five recipients of the Cross of Valour, Australia's highest bravery decoration. He was awarded the Cross of Valour for his actions in the rescue of a child from a flooded storm water drain in 1996.

 

CV CITATION:

 

About mid morning on 3 May 1996, Mr Allan Sparkes rescued a boy trapped in a flooded underground storm water drain following record rainfalls at Coffs Harbour.

 

Mr Sparkes and a police colleague responded to an urgent call for assistance to rescue a boy trapped in a flooded storm water drain. From the entrance of the drain, an object, believed to be the missing child, could be seen about 80-100 metres along. Tied to a rope, Mr Sparkes entered the drain and was rapidly washed 20 metres along the pipe by the ferocity of the current before realising the rope was inadequate. With a more substantial line, he re-entered the drain even though breathing space in the pipe had reduced due to rising flood waters and his own bulk displacement. Floodwaters washed him some 80 metres downstream before he could establish that the object was only debris. The drain was now almost totally engulfed in floodwater leaving only a small air space and Mr Sparkes was in danger of drowning as frantic attempts were made by his colleague and others to haul him against the flow to the surface. Although believing the child had little or no chance of survival, screams were heard further downstream in a pipe under a section of the Pacific Highway at the junction of six drains. Believing that the child was drowning and had to be rescued by the fasted means possible, Mr Sparkes and his colleague entered the flooded pipe in total darkness without a life line, torch or emergency air supply. As it was impossible to call to the child above the roar of the floodwater, the rescuers separately searched the maze of water pipes. After progressing deeper into the drainage system Mr Sparkes could hear the desperate screams more clearly and believed he had located the boy's position. It was agreed that his colleague would search at ground level for a manhole closer to the child to facilitate a faster rescue. An ambulance officer then descended into the drains and remained in the flooded junction area to assist Mr Sparkes. Mr Sparkes secured a rope to himself and with the aid of a torch crawled back against the flow, finally making contact with the child and managing to calm him. By this stage Mr Sparkes was 30 metres form the pipe opening and 3 metres underground. Mr Sparkes managed to coax the boy into letting go of debris, and allow himself to be washed down the drain to where Mr Sparkes could grab and secure him. Mr Sparkes then placed the boy in front of himself and they were both washed down the pipe to the waiting ambulance officer. Mr Sparkes suffered lacerations and abrasions to his back and shoulder and cuts to his fingers and feet from forcing his way against the flow. Throughout the rescue Mr Sparkes was aware that he was in grave danger of losing his life as he believed that the whole storm water system was only minutes away from again being totally engulfed with floodwater.

 

By his actions, Mr Sparkes displayed the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.

 

In 2017 Sparkes was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to mental health support organisations, and to the community.

Allan Sparkes CV, OAM, VA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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