TOP SECRET ANIMAL ATTACK FILES
Special Report filed by AAF Correspondent: Scott Tingley
|The great Australian
bite meets its match
By ROD McGUIRK
Saturday, September 23, 2000
DARWIN - A 12-year-old boy fought his way from the jaws of a three-metre crocodile by gouging its eyes, his father said yesterday.
The saltwater croc had clamped Sam West as he snorkelled near Montilivet Island, off Western Australia's Kimberley coast, on Tuesday, Bill West said.
"It gripped his head first, released him then gripped his hands," said Mr West, a prawn trawler owner. "It gripped him four or five times. He's very, very lucky to be alive."
Mr West said his son's courage in fighting back by gouging the croc's eye had probably saved him.
Sam, who lives with his mother in Cairns, was discharged from the Royal Darwin Hospital yesterday after being treated for cuts to the head, wrists and hands.
A zoologist, Graeme Webb, a crocodile expert, said the eye gouge was probably the only chance of fending off a three-metre specimen, which would weigh up to 120 kilograms.
"My guess is that it would be enough, but it would take a cool-headed boy to manage it," Dr Webb said.
"The croc's head is so well armored and horny, the eye is the only place you can actually get at it."
The boy had been spending school holidays with his father aboard the trawler Amanda Lee.
The crew had been relaxing on the beach of the remote island when the croc attacked about 20 metres from shore, Mr West said.
Crew members rushed in a dinghy to the boy's aid when they heard his screams.
"It was probably over in moments, but it seemed like ages," Mr West said.
A float plane in the area heard the trawler's emergency calls and collected the boy.
He was transferred to an aeromedical plane, which flew him to Darwin.
Dr Webb said crocodiles tended to be attracted by the splashing and the posture of snorkellers. . - AAP
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