Jarrad Teka could see his fingers starting to slip. Water was rushing over his head and his dog Raho dangling by his leash below him as he clung to a rock to try to save them both.
Below was the potentially deadly 12-metre drop at Ginninderra Falls. Teka looked up, searching for a way to safety, but then they both fell.
"Everything went black; I must have hit my head on a rock. The doctors said because of that my body went limp, so I was tense and I didn't break bones or damage my spine. I've never been so panicked in my life," he said.
"I woke up and Raho was licking my face; he had no injuries at all, was wagging his tail. I couldn't feel my legs, I thought I was in trouble. Two strangers swam over to drag me out. If they hadn't been there, it would have been all over. I was with a mate, but he was at the top and it would have been Christmas before he got down to me.
"I didn't even grab the kids' names. I owe a lot to them to be honest with you. They saved me."
Teka, the fast-talking, enthusiastic coach of the Tuggeranong Bushrangers rugby league side, describes himself as "one of the lucky ones" after a fall which could have easily killed him, caused brain damage or paralysis.
The injuries he suffered were minor compared to what could have happened. So instead of being shattered about season-ending knee injuries, Teka is sharing his story to show how to turn life-altering lessons into motivation. And to say thank you to two strangers.
Teka was taking his dog for a walk two months ago at the picturesque, but dangerous, Ginninderra Falls. The falls have been closed since 2004 because of public liability concerns, but it's still a popular swimming spot in the warmer months and a person had to be rescued there earlier this year. A number of people have been injured trespassing at the site in recent years, ignoring warnings not to enter the privately owned area.
Teka's afternoon changed when Raho got stuck on the opposite side and had to be rescued. Teka, 40, went after him, but Raho slipped when they tried to get back and went over the edge.
"I'd never been there before, it's beautiful. But I thought I'd lost my dog there. He slipped and I thought I had him. As soon as I put my foot in the water, down I went, too," he said.
When he regained consciousness he was lost and couldn't feel his feet. But the feeling slowly came back, so mate Jake McGrath helped carry Teka back to the car park. A five-minute walked turned into a two-hour trek before going to hospital.
"Once I could feel my toes, I decided to grit my teeth and we went back to the car. Jake's a nurse, too, so he was the one who said we should go to hospital," Teka said.
The injuries, torn medial and posterior ligaments in his knee and bone bruising, were minor compared to others in the same situation. But they sent Teka into a mental health spiral as reality set in about missing a chance to play for the Australian league tag side and not being able to play for Tuggeranong.
"I was in bed for two weeks, even to get to the toilet was hard. Both legs were gone, my back hurt and I kept thinking 'Why me?'. I was in a dark place, I could feel myself sinking. Everything seemed to be happening at once.
Two strangers swam over to drag me out. If they hadn't been there, it would have been all over.Jarrad Teka
"Now I'm telling everyone I'm glad it's happened to me, because I appreciate what I have in life. My legs being one of those."
The change in attitude came when Teka realised he had to confront his demons rather than using sport as an escape, like he had done in the past. He says the experience has made him a better person because he has more perspective on life.
But he also says it has made him a better coach because he's equipped to help his players on and off the field.
"It's actually put me in a better place," he said.
"There are people a lot worse off than me. My focus is just on coaching at the moment ... but I feel like I'm now in a position where I can help guys. Not just with footy, with whatever is going in their lives.
"When I was down in the past I would go to the gym or play sport until I was exhausted. I've listened to a few podcasts and it's opened my mind.
"I realise there's more to life, I'm a lot calmer now. I really am one of the lucky ones."