The two men, along with their dogs – a puppy, a great dane and a kelpie – became trapped in the rapidly rising floods in Morwincha, in the Scenic Rim region of Queensland.
The van was found wedged between a tree, with Troy Ryan clinging to the passenger door.
“The force of the creek or river, it was just too much,” he said.
An elderly man, Greg Forder, was inside with three dogs.
“All I could think of was the dogs, the dogs, the dogs. Forgetting about myself, by this stage the water’s up to the dashboard, it was covering the speedo,” he said.
The two men had hired the van in NSW and were hoping to travel to Ipswich to pick up the puppy when they were swept off the bridge.
Police officers who had been attending a crash on the Cunningham Highway nearby rushed to their aid.
“We’re going to do this quick because the water’s coming up,” one of the officers is heard saying.
The police officers went through 100m of floodwaters to retrieve Ryan and the puppy.
One officer escorted them to safety while a second stayed with Forder and the two dogs still in the flooded vehicle.
An officer then carried Forder on his back while another coaxed the great dane and kelpie out of the submerged van, carrying them to safety.
“If these people are indicative of Queensland police, they’ve got it right. They’ve got it dead right,” Forder said.
The four officers have been commended for their “quick-thinking” and bravery by the Queensland Police Service.
While their owners seek emergency accommodation, a senior constable is currently caring for the dogs – Ghost and Molly, while the puppy is yet to be named.
St Vinnies have helped the two men find accommodation until they can return home.
Residents are urged to avoid floodwaters at all costs and to avoid flooded roads.
Towns cut off by floodwaters for second time this year
“Police continue to urge members of the public are urged to avoid roads, creeks and bridges likely to be impacted by rapidly rising water, storm debris and flood damage during the current wet weather,” a QPS spokesperson said.