BRISBANE, Australia – An Australian teen who was attacked by a crocodile after jumping into a crocodile-infested river on a dare was recovering from serious wounds to his arm, officials said Monday, as authorities recovered the body of another man who also may have been attacked by a crocodile in nearby waters.
Lee de Paauw, an 18-year-old from Queensland state, was at a hostel in the northern Queensland town of Innisfail around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday when he started bragging that he could swim in the river, a known habitat for aggressive saltwater crocodiles, said Sophie Paterson, a British backpacker who was at the hostel.
She and several others egged him on, though none of them thought he'd actually get in the water, Paterson said.
But get in the water he did. Seconds later, a crocodile latched onto him.
"It all happened very fast. Pretty much as soon as he jumped in, there was splashing and screaming," Paterson told Queensland's Courier-Mail newspaper. "There was blood everywhere and he just wouldn't stop screaming."
De Paauw managed to pull himself out of the water. Queensland paramedic Neil Noble said the teen suffered extensive injuries to his arm, and was lucky to escape from the crocodile before the animal drowned him.
Meanwhile, Queensland authorities on Monday recovered a body believed to be that of a man who vanished on Saturday while spearfishing alone in waters just north of Innisfail. The 35-year-old man's boat was found anchored off Palmer Point, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Innisfail, on Saturday evening, with his spear gun floating in the water nearby.
An air and sea search was launched and officials spotted a body in the water on Monday morning, Queensland police said in a statement. An initial investigation suggests the man may have been taken by a crocodile, police said.
Wildlife officers were hunting for the animal, believed to be around 13 feet long.
Crocodiles have been a protected species in Australia since the 1970s, which has led to an explosion in their population across the country's tropical north. Because saltwater crocodiles can live up 70 years and grow throughout their lives — reaching up to 23 feet in length — the proportion of large crocodiles is also rising.