WHEN a kangaroo crashed through the windscreen of a family car at Mendooran, seriously injuring two occupants, it was the quick thinking of a nine-year-old girl which saved the day.
Rachel Bennell, now aged 11, has received the Ambulance NSW Star award for outstanding bravery shown by children, because of her actions on that day.
Rachel had been travelling in the car with her mother Cara, siblings Hannah, 8, and Tim, 7, and a family friend about 6pm on August 12 last year when disaster struck.
An oncoming vehicle hit a kangaroo, which was then catapulted through the windscreen of the Bennell's car and into the back seat.
Cara, who was driving, was initially impacted and had her cheekbone broken in three places.
She later required 42 stitches to her face.
Hannah, who was sitting in the middle of the back seat, suffered a four-centimetre laceration to her forehead, together with other serious injuries after glass penetrated both her eyes.
The front passenger, together with Rachel and Tim , were lucky to escape injury.
This left Rachel in a position to take control of the situation.
The children had been to visit their father, Damien, and were headed back towards their Dubbo home when the accident occurred just minutes later.
While Tim urged his mother to remain conscious, Rachel, a student at Coonabarabran Public School, immediately called her father for help.
"She said, 'Dad, you need to turn around, we've had a car accident. Hannah's badly injured, Mum's badly injured, Tim's OK, but you need to come back'," Damien said.
"The phone she used was actually the bloke who was coming the other way who initially hit the kangaroo.
"She said, 'I need your phone'. Then after she rang me she gave him back the phone and said, 'you need to ring an ambulance'.
"She actually told him to ring an ambulance.
"She then started running back towards Mendooran and met me along the way."
Dubbo paramedic, Leanne Riley, described Rachel as an extremely courageous little girl.
"Rachel showed such bravery for a girl her age," Ms Riley said.
"She was suffering neck and back pain, but all the time she was concerned about her mother and sister."
Damien was brimming wtih pride.
"So many people say 'far out', they're so shocked at the way she acted. I am extremely proud of Rachel. She is a very brave little girl," he said.
Damien said that, for the first 48 hours, it was touch and go as to whether Hannah would lose her left eye, but her condition had since improved dramatically.
"Every prayer has been met. She now has 20-20 vision back in her right eye and her left eye is a couple of levels below.
"It's an awesome recovery."