A teenager who almost had his arm ripped off by a crocodile has admitted he jumped into croc-infested waters to impress a girl.
Lee De Paauw, 18, is lucky to be alive after the animal latched onto his left arm during a late-night swim in far-north Queensland’s Johnstone River.
He escaped the crocodile’s jaws by punching it with his right arm, The Cairns Post reported.
The teen jumped from a wharf into the river as a dare while “revelling with friends” at Innisfail early Sunday morning.
De Paauw has since revealed he accepted the dare to impress a young British backpacker.
“I just wanted to show the backpacker. I got her number and her name is Sophie,” he told Nova FM’s Fitzy and Wippa this morning.
Mr De Paauw said he had jumped in the water and was swimming back to a jetty “when the croc grabbed my arm, dragged me back out and started rolling”.
“It took me out about six metres (19 feet) from the wharf. I hit it once on the nose, it loosened a bit.
“I got another hit in and it was right on its eye. I was lucky because it just dropped me.”
The backpacker in question, Sophie Paterson, told The Courier-Mail that De Paauw was bragging about how he wasn’t afraid to swim in the croc-infested waters—so the group dared him to do it.
“It all happened very fast, pretty much as soon as he jumped in, there was splashing and screaming,” the 24-year-old said.
“There was blood everywhere and he just wouldn’t stop screaming.’’
Friends helped pull him from the water. The group was reportedly drinking at the time of the attack.
The victim was taken to Innisfail District Hospital where he was stabilized, before being taken to Cairns Hospital for surgery.
“It’s very fortunate that he survived this incident and was able to be rescued,” Queensland Ambulance Service Cairns spokesman Neil Noble said.
“Circumstances that led up to this attack are quite sketchy but reports from the scene are that he was dared to jump into the water, which he did, and unfortunately that area is well known for its crocodile population and we’re just very grateful that he survived this incident because it could have turned out to be quite fatal.”
Noble said initial reports that De Paauw’s arm was amputated were untrue.
“(His arm) has been really badly injured and hopefully surgeons can help him and restore the use of his arm,” Noble said.
De Paauw’s Facebook page suggests he has a fascination with crocs.
He shared a 9 News report of a crocodile attack on a pig hunting dog in 2013, and also posted a picture of a massive croc by a river with the caption “Not fishing there”.
Brenton Gangemi, owner of Queensland wildlife cruises Snapping Tours, said he believed the culprit croc was a three-and-a-half to four metre (10-14 feet) male saltwater crocodile that had been frequenting the area recently.
Gangemi said the man could also have been attacked by a bull shark, as they were common in the river.
Saltwater crocodiles are one of Australia’s most dangerous land animals and have been responsible for eight confirmed fatal attacks in Queensland since 1985.
New Zealand-born photographer Cindy Waldron died in May 2016 after she was dragged under water by a 14 foot (4.3m) saltwater crocodile while walking with a friend at Thornton Beach, north of Cairns.
Crocodiles kill an average of two people each year in Australia.
This story was originally published at the news.com.au