Monster Crocodile Kills Woman in Tropical RiverAP , Associated Press
Feb. 12, 1986 12:55 PM ET
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ An 18-foot-long crocodile closed its huge jaws on a young woman and dragged her to her death in a tropical river where she had been setting fish nets, a witness said.
Bob McNeil, skipper of the trawler Kiama, said his vessel had broken down and he and the 26-year-old crew member went into the crocodile-infested river in northern Queensland state Tuesday to set the nets.
McNeil said he had reached the Kiama and the woman, identified only as Kate, was a few feet away when ''I saw a huge set of jaws lung from the river. It grabbed her, gave her a couple of twists and took her under. It was a monster. It was at least 18 feet long.''
''She was only about six feet from the boat,'' he said. ''I tried to find a rifle to shoot the animal but she was already gone.''
On Wednesday, police searched the area 1,100 miles northeast of here, and said they found the killer saltwater crocodile guarding the woman's body.
''The river has been netted so there's no way it can escape out to sea,'' state police spokesman Ian Hatcher said. ''It's guarding the woman's body. We'll decide ... whether to shoot it or trap it and keep it as a curiosity.''
Hatcher said crocodiles drown their victims, then wait several days before eating them. ''These animals move with amazing speed. Almost certainly it was death by drowning rather than savaging,'' he said.
The attack came just two months after Berryl Wruck, 48, was killed by a salwater crocodile while swimming in a Queensland river after a Christmas dinner party. Human remains were found a month later in the stomach of a 16- foot-long crocodile.
McNeil and Kate were the entire crew of the Kiama, which was fishing for barramundi in the Staaten River of Cape York Peninsula. The outboard motor had broken down and they had decided to spend the night on the boat in the river.
''She would have known full well that there was a chance of a crocodile attack in those waters,'' said Bill Ennis, who heads the local tourist authority.
''Anyone who swims in the waters of gulf rivers and especially someone who is involved in the fishing industry knows that they are taking a chance,'' he said. ''People do not walk out amongst lions because they can be fairly confident of the consequences.''
Crocodiles inhabit the whole of northern Australia and were declared a protected species in 1974 for fear they would become extinct if hunters continued killing them for their skins.
Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, premier of Queensland state, said he was convinced of the need to eradicate the reptiles, which are blamed for more than a dozen deaths or disappearances since 1974.
''Sure, they are good from a tourist point of view but we can't allow this to go on,'' he said. Bjelke-Petersen said he expected the National Parks and Wildlife Service to submit an eradication plan state government soon.