An Australian couple was rescued from the crocodile-ridden outback after they started a small fire and etched “help” in the mud, hoping to catch the attention of search crews. The pair was reported as missing for 26 hours.
Chantelle Johnson and Colen Nulgit were reported missing Sunday after the couple failed to return from a fishing trip in Western Australia’s Keep River National Park. Their vehicle became bogged down in thick mud, leaving the couple and their dog stranded in the outback.
“We tried digging and we tried putting stuff under the tires but it didn’t budge,” Johnson explained to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). “We were pretty scared and worried, but we were just hoping someone would come.”
What’s more, the couple said they were worried about the presence of saltwater crocodiles; the pair had spotted several tracks in the mud earlier in the day.
“Earlier that day we saw two, three croc tracks — they were about five, six metres long,” Nulgit said adding they were worried what the tide would bring come nightfall. “We stayed in the car the first night and then we saw the water rising.”
Nulgit said they also feared being swept away with the rising tide.
Speaking with CNN, the man said it wasn’t until about 4 a.m. on Monday when the couple found a fence post and used it to carve “help” in the mud, hoping to catch the attention of a passing plane.
“Hardly anyone goes out that way,” Nulgit said of being stranded in the remote area.
However, the couple had luckily told family members about their plans, where they were going and when they expected to be back home. When they didn’t return, police were notified.
On Monday, Kununurra police coordinated an air-search for the missing couple. Nulgit told ABC when they heard what sounded like a plane, that’s when they started a fire, hoping to catch rescuers’ attention.
“When they [the rescuers] came a bit lower to the ground, we jumped out of the car and started to wave them down,” Nulgit.
Western Australia Police Force said a ground crew was dispatched to the location after spotting the couple and the stuck vehicle.
“If they had not lit the fire and advised family members details of when they were departing and an expected return time, the couple may not have been located,” police said in a statement.
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