Harrowing 44 minute call before flood drowning
A Pakistani national killed in Sydney floodwaters was on the phone to emergency services and tried desperately to free himself from his car but he could not get out.
"You can only just imagine somebody fighting for their life to get out of the car - that's what the inside damage of the car looked like," Detective Inspector Chris Laird said, as he described the horrific scene on Wednesday.
Police said the man called emergency services just before 6.30am after he became trapped in floodwaters on Cattai Ridge Road in Glenorie.
He managed to stay on the phone to Triple-0 for nearly 40 minutes until the connection was lost.
His vehicle was later found just after 1pm with his body inside.
Detective Inspector Laird said the 25-year-old man was on the first day of a new contracting job.
"We can only speculate that he may have not known the area as locals would … he may not have seen the water as he drove in given the fact that the gates across the road were completely submerged," he told reporters.
"Sadly, in hindsight we can always say never drive into a swollen road and that will form part of our inquiries."
Inspector Laird described the man's death as an "absolute tragedy" and said it was a miracle no one else had been killed in Sydney's catastrophic floods.
"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," he 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."
Inspector Laird said there were no broken windows and the man "clearly couldn't get out."
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
Just hours after telling reporters it was "simply a miracle" there had been no deaths in the wildly destructive floods, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told parliament the state had recorded its first fatality.
"Unfortunately we have received news of a fatality in the northwest of Sydney flood waters," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said during question time on Wednesday afternoon.
"Because it's early stages I will allow emergency services to comment at the appropriate time to ensure arrangements have been made with next of kin."
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also addressed the tragedy in federal parliament.
"It underscores the messages everybody from the New South Wales Premier, the Prime Minister down have been issuing over recent days and that is, please, do not enter these flood waters."
Scott Morrison expressed his deepest condolences, on behalf of the parliament, to the man's family.
"As the flood waters recede and the clean-up begins ... their house will be dark and their grief will be great because their loss will not recede," Mr Morrison said.
"I just pray a blessing on their family."
He also paid tribute to the NSW police officers who responded to the incident.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese joined the prime minister in expressing his regret for "this tragic loss of life".
"A family has lost a loved one, with no doubt that although the person has not been identified, his friends, his community, will be feeling this loss very soon," Mr Albanese said.
He reiterated that water and cars "don't mix", reminding Australians it was better to be delayed than to take risks during the significant weather event lashing the east coast.
Mr Albanese said the fact there had not been more lives lost over the past few days was a credit to Australians.
The SES has completed almost 1000 flood rescues and about 24,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes.
Originally published as Harrowing final call of flood victim