An Australian man is lucky to be alive after he being bitten by a crocodile in northern Queensland on Saturday after jumping into the Johnstone River to impress a girl he had a crush on.
18-year-old Lee de Paauw was at a backpackers hostel in the town of Innisfail when he started bragging that he could swim in the river, a known habitat for aggressive saltwater crocodiles.
De Paauw was drinking at the hostel with a group of friends, including British backpacker Sophie Paterson, when he said backpackers were more likely to be eaten by crocodiles than Australians.
Paterson says others egged him on, though none of them thought he would actually do it.
De Paauw decided to put his theory to the test.
Moments after jumping into the river, De Paauw was attacked by a crocodile and dragged six metres.
“Holy crap, I’m gone for sure,” he recalled thinking, during an interview from his Cairns hospital bed..
“At that point I punched it in the snout. My second hit, I got it straight in the eye and then it let go.”
De Paauw then managed to swim to the stairs and came out with a bite in his left arm.
“You’ve seen Jaws. It was kind of like that, you know, there was a lot of blood, a lot of bone,” Paterson said.
“It was just, you know, it was pretty horrendous.”
Queensland paramedic Neil Noble said the teen was lucky to escape before the crocodile drowned him.
“I didn’t know there was a crocs there. I just done it for Sophie,” said De Paauw. “She’s beautiful, caring and kind.”
Securing a job fruit picking, Paterson said she couldn’t visit De Paauw because of her work commitments but has agreed to go on a date with him.
“I’d have to be quite twisted to be impressed by that, I mean, nothing’s impressive about that,” Paterson said. “I think, you know, risking your life, there’s nothing funny about that.”
Doctors have said De Paauw will not lose his arm but will surely be scared for life.
-With files from The Associated Press.