Crocodiles in Australia kill fisherman, maul 18-year-old

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |   March 20, 2017 at 11:51 AM

March 20 (UPI) -- A man was killed in a suspected crocodile attack while another survived after jumping into crocodile-infested water in separate incidents in Australia, officials said.

Both occurred in the northern part of Queensland, in northeastern Australia.

The boat of a spear fisherman, 35-year-old Warren Hughes, was found empty on Saturday. Police pulled Hughes' body out of the water on Monday morning, and said evidence suggested he was attacked by a large crocodile. If confirmed, his death would be the ninth by crocodile attack in Queensland since 1985.

Authorities said a crocodile made an aggressive approach toward a police boat in the area on Sunday.

"It appears that this animal may be responsible for the death of this man. It's not consistent with a wild crocodile. They tend to be fairly wary of people. It's a behavior that we have seen before in crocodiles that have attacked people," said Dr. Matt Brien of Queensland's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

On Sunday, another man survived a crocodile attack in a river several miles down the coast from the first incident. Lee De Pauw, 18, was bitten on the arm after jumping into a crocodile-infested river on a dare. He escaped by punching the animal in the head, and sustained severe hand and arm injuries, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported Sunday.

"Reports from the scene are he was dared to jump into the water, which he did and unfortunately that area is well known for its crocodile population," said paramedic Neil Noble. "We're just very grateful that he's survived this incident because it could have turned out to be quite fatal. Certainly to get out of the water was absolutely vital in case that crocodile was able to get a good grip on him and do the death roll and then drown him."

British backpacker Sophie Paterson accompanied De Pauw and other friends to the edge of the river after they had several drinks at a local restaurant, she told Australia's 9News.

"He sort of made this claim 'I'll swim out and back,'" Paterson said. "At first we just said 'Don't be so ridiculous' and didn't think he was going to go through with it. It all happened very fast, pretty much as soon as he jumped in, there was splashing and screaming. There was blood everywhere and he just wouldn't stop screaming."

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