18 May 2016

Man fights off crocs with spanners and spark plugs

8:36 am on 18 May 2016

A 72-year-old man fought off crocodiles by throwing spanners and spark plugs at them as he battled to save his drowning friend after a croc capsized their boat near Darwin.

no caption

Photo: 123rf

The two men, from Victoria, were crabbing about 38km north-east of Darwin yesterday morning when they tried to retrieve their crab pots from the water.

As they attempted to pull some pots into their small aluminium boat, a crocodile deliberately capsized their craft and they were thrown into the water, the survivor told his rescuers.

One of the men managed to climb on board the upturned boat, but his friend became trapped under the capsized craft.

Over the course of the next three hours, the surviving man tried desperately to keep an increasing number of crocodiles away.

"He was using spanners and spark plugs to hold them at bay," CareFlight's Ian Badham said.

A group of other crabbers heard the man's shouts and rescued him and managed to retrieve the drowned man's body.

The man was flown by CareFlight rescue helicopter to Royal Darwin Hospital after being treated at the boat ramp.

"The man has been left suffering from severe shock and dehydration and exposure," Mr Badham said.

The bold behaviour of the crocodile around the crabbers' boat has similarities to another fatal attack.

Bill Scott was standing in a boat when he was taken by a crocodile while on a family fishing trip in Kakadu in 2014.

At the 2015 inquest into Mr Scott's death, the NT Coroner noted witnesses seeing a bow wave in the water which destabilised Mr Scott as he stood inside the small boat, causing him to stumble before he was attacked and dragged overboard.

Coroner Greg Cavanagh said there was no regulation around the size, type and strength of "pleasure craft" on waters in the Top End.

He recommended warnings be changed to include the message "saltwater crocodiles can attack people in boats and the smaller the boat the greater the risk".