Australian receives bravery award for rescues in Indonesian air disaster

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Australia has given a bravery award to a Sunshine Coast resident who rescued several people after an air disaster in Indonesia. Kyle Quinlan was a passenger in the March 2007 crash of a Garuda Indonesia jet in Yogyakarta.

People were screaming and others were dead. It was horrific.

—Kyle Quinlan

The jet overshot the runway and burst into flames. Quinlan received chest injuries but still got up and opened an emergency exit. He extinguished a fire blocking an escape and prevented panicked passengers from trampling a wounded victim. After helping an injured colleague with the Australian air force to safety, he then returned to the wreckage several times to help people before being forced to retreat by the heat.

"There was smoke and fire everywhere," Quinlan said of the accident, which killed 21 people from Indonesia and Australia. "People were screaming and others were dead. It was horrific."

Quinlan is to receive a Bravery Medal, the second-highest bravery award, in a ceremony at the Australian Bravery Decorations early next year. "What I did that day just came naturally. I certainly don’t feel like a hero," the 26-year-old told reporters. "In that situation all I did was help. If I was in trouble I’d like to think another person would do the same for me."

After the crash Quinlan travelled to hospital with his injured friend, and later worked with the Australian Embassy to give details of Australian nationals on the flight and recount his memory of how the disaster unfolded.