On Saturday 25 March 2017 Bruce Imrie was driving with his wife, Maureen on the estuary road in Sumner, Christchurch when he drove through the barrier and into the estuary. The first people to reach the scene were three British doctors, who all worked at Christchurch Central Hospital.
Dr Oliver Beaumont and Dr Rory Clarke jumped into the water. Their friend Dr Tara Kubba remained on shore and called emergency services.
The car was floating in strong currents, taking on water, and moving quickly towards the sea. Dr Beaumont made it to the car first and spoke with the two elderly occupants. He instructed them to remove their seat belts, before he attempted to open the car door.
Mr Beaumont used considerable strength to open the driver’s door against the pressure of the surrounding water. The car sank rapidly when the door was opened. He managed to extract Mr Imrie from and the car, who was assisted to the shore by Dr Clarke. Dr Beaumont dived under to try and save Mrs Imrie. The depth of the water around this area was some four to six metres.
Unfortunately Mrs Imrie drowned in the car, and the body and the vehicle were not located until the following day.
Mr Imrie survived due to the actions of Dr Beaumont and Dr Clarke, who put themselves at considerable personal risk to conduct a rescue in very challenging and dangerous conditions.