JOHN Renda wants the family of a woman who was killed at Thunder Point to know that she didn’t die alone.
Mr Renda, from Gladstone Park, was the first person to reach the Melbourne woman, 56, after she fell about 30 metres from a cliff’s edge to rocks below on Sunday.
Mr Renda, 53, and his wife, Glenda, have been in Warrnambool for almost four weeks fitting out the new Woolworths store in Dennington.
Yesterday, they told The Standard they were with their daughter, son-in-law and grandchild looking at the whale carcass at Thunder Point when they heard screams for help.
A woman who had been walking her dogs had raised the alarm and directed Mr Renda to the victim at the bottom of the cliff.
Mrs Renda said that within five minutes her husband had scaled down the east side of the cliff to the rocks below.
Mrs Renda then laid on her stomach at the edge of the cliff and yelled out instructions from her son-in-law who was on the phone to a triple-0 operator.
“I checked if she was comfortable and responsive,” Mr Renda said.
“I asked her name and how old she was. I said: ‘hi, I’m John’.
“She was in and out of consciousness so I said ‘tell me what I just said’ and she said ‘you’re John’.”
Mr Renda tried to reassure the injured woman that help was on its way.
“I kept saying everything is alright, they’re coming down,” he said.
“She wasn’t making any noise.
“She was trying to curl up to go to sleep.
“I said ‘you can’t go to sleep you have to stay with me’. I said ‘keep me company’.
“I just kept trying to support her neck. I put my singlet over her head as a tourniquet.
“I put my jumper around her back to keep her warm.
“I kept saying ‘they’re coming, they’re coming’, but time wise I had no idea what was going on.
“A paramedic then came down and I said she’d stopped breathing and a policeman came down too.
“The three of us lifted her to a flat rock and we immediately commenced CPR. It went for over an hour.
“I held the bag and the policeman massaged her heart.”
Mr Renda said a paramedic was then lowered and the woman was winched away.
He said he and the other emergency services personnel remained on the rocks for about another hour before they were winched up.
Mr Renda, who has no first aid training, said despite his actions he felt he had let the woman down.
“In a way I feel like I’ve failed her,” he said.
“My name was the last thing she said. For the family, we were there with her. She wasn’t alone.
“The lady walking the dogs is the hero. Who knows what would have happened if she hadn’t have seen her?”
Mrs Renda said she couldn’t praise the police, CFA, SES and paramedics enough.
“Everyone was constantly coming over to me saying John’s OK, he’s alright,” she said.
“They were phenomenal.
“John is my hero. He was just down there, there was no will I or won’t I?”
Mr Renda said he continued to replay the day over and over in his mind.
“You just think it through over and over,” he said. “In hindsight there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do again. Whatever the danger, it was all about her.”
Police declined to release the woman’s name yesterday and will prepare a report for the Victorian coroner.
Emergency services were called to Thunder Point about 11.40am after the woman is believed to have slipped and fell.