Auckland man hailed as a hero after saving two children, woman from sinking car

A young East Auckland man is being hailed as a hero after rescuing two little children from a car that was sinking in water.

The drama unfolded at Bucklands Beach when a car carrying the youngsters accidentally rolled down a steep driveway and into the ocean. 

Residents Michelle Xia and Louise Oliver were the first people on the scene.

Xia said she heard a loud noise and then saw the car flying into the water. Oliver said she heard a "big bang" and ran outside to see what was happening. 

"I saw a car submerged in the water – it went down very, very quickly," she said. 

Oliver then saw a man, believed to be the children's father, on the side of the road. 

"I went to help him out – he was badly injured. And I just sat with him until the ambulance came."

She said the man was distressed and kept asking: "Am I going to be alright?"

"He was calling out a lady's name. So I think that was the lady that was in the car."

Oliver said she hailed down a passerby who went to help the children and woman in the sinking car. 

"He bolted out and he went straight into the water to get the family out."

That man was 32-year-old Robbie Cattle, who told Newshub he saw a large commotion, so he stopped to see what was happening. 

"I saw commotion of people on the side of the road just screaming then I realised that there was a car in the water and that there were people in it," he said.

"I just saw the headlights of the car so straight away I just pulled over and then I just took all my clothes off as I got in."

Cattle said there was a woman in the cold water with the two children and she was frantically treading water.

He said he grabbed the woman and children and swam the 10 to 15 metres back to shore as quickly as he could. 

"I just put her underneath my chest and grabbed the children and just swam as hard as I could with my legs and pulled them back to shore," said Cattle.

"Everyone was in a lot of shock, so not much was said. And I think they were just relieved to get to the shore, to be honest." 

Cattle said he was simply in the right place at the right time. 

"I just feel like it's a normal thing that anyone would do, but I was just right time right place. I'm just glad that it didn't turn out another way and I was able to get there in time," he said.

Police haven't confirmed exactly what happened, but neighbours told Newshub the family accidentally drove up a driveway while looking for an address.

After the car parked, the witnesses say somehow the handbrake either failed or wasn't on and the car raced down the driveway, across the road and into a parked car before flying the footpath and into the water. 

Luckily the woman and children weren't hurt. However, the man, who wasn't in the car when it rolled away, received serious injuries. 

Police won't confirm whether he was hit by the out-of-control car.