A man who miraculously survived two hours trapped by an excavator in a dam has revealed the moment he realised he was "in a fair bit of trouble," during an emotional interview on the Today show.

Father-of-two Daniel Miller was trapped by the roll bar of his vehicle when it slid into the dam on his property at Charlotte Bay on the NSW mid-north coast on Wednesday.

The 45-year-old beat the odds and managed to survive by arching his back to bob his head above the waterline and cry for help, which was eventually heard by a neighbour 500 metres away.

The dam was able to be drained so that fire crews could rescue the trapped man. Photo / Fire & Rescue 295 Forster
The dam was able to be drained so that fire crews could rescue the trapped man. Photo / Fire & Rescue 295 Forster

"It [the excavator] moved and I tried to save it and I couldn't - that's when I knew it was serious," he told Today co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson.


"When the water and the bar landed across my back, the first thing that went through my head was that I promised my wife that I wouldn't die first."

His wife Saimaa was by his side for the emotional interview today, along with their two young children.

Miller continued: "I thought 'I have to get out of here' and just started trying to crawl out.

"I eventually got my head up out of the water and realised I was pinned just behind my butt ... and that I was in a fair bit of trouble."

Before he was eventually rescued in a delicate operation involving an emergency crew, Miller had convinced himself he was all on his own.

"I had my chin out at first so I could yell and the machine kept running while I was in the dam, so it was next to me putting out fumes and oil and stuff and there wasn't anyone to hear me anyway," he explained.

"I started to dig myself out and that's when I sunk further down, and my nose was just above the water and then I decided I had to make some kind of plan to survive."

Luckily, his plan -which involved locking himself into an unnatural 'cobra' position for two hours - was successful, and Miller was reunited with his family.

In true Aussie style, his wife chalked up his miracle survival to him being a "legend."

"He's OK because it's Dan," she told the hosts, grinning.

"Anyone that knows him knows he's such a legend ... and now the whole world knows he's a legend."