10 May 2023

Archer Point croc attack victim was aware of the risks

| Sarah Martin
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The Bloomfield man arrives at Cairns Base Hospital.

FRIENDS of the Bloomfield man who escaped a croc attack while spearfishing north of Archer Point on Saturday have described hearing his yells as the reptile dragged him under.

The men, visitors from South America, were spearfishing the rocky coastline just north of Archer Point with their local friend, about half an hour’s drive from Cooktown, on Saturday.

Two of the men had returned to shore while the local man and another remained in the water.

The pair heard screaming and that was when the croc allegedly bit the man multiple times and dragged him under, before he managed to escape.

Initial reports suggested the victim was from Cairns, however, Cape York Weekly has been told he was living locally in Bloomfield and was well aware of the risks of crocodiles and sharks.

Queensland Ambulance critical care flight paramedic Valerie Noble said the man had multiple fractures and puncture wounds from the croc’s teeth.

“He has been in the water where he’s noticed approximately a 4.5m crocodile swimming towards him which he has tried to fend off with his spear gun unsuccessfully,” she said.

“It has bitten him three times and dragged him to the bottom where he has managed to stick his fingers in the crocodile’s eyes multiple times and escape before swimming towards the shore.”

Paramedics had to be winched to the rocky site to treat the man.

The man climbed onto rocks and his mates, who were visibly shaken when retelling the story, applied rudimentary first aid at the site, but said they weren’t sure if their friend was going to make it.

Paramedics were unable to access the site by land, and the rescue chopper personnel had to be winched onto shore to stop the bleeding before winching the man on board.

“He’s an extremely lucky man, not many people would live to tell the story like that,” Ms Noble said.

While many have criticised the man for being in croc habitat, Vince Parkes, who has been spearfishing the coastline from Cooktown south to Archer Point his whole life, said diving could be done safely.

“I don’t shore dive like that any more,” he said.

“You have to have a dinghy driver, someone in a boat who is sticking close and keeping an eye on you, as well as a lookout for sharks and crocs.”

Mr Parkes described several close encounters with crocodiles in the area while spearfishing, including where one large croc swam straight at his friend while diving south of Archer.

“I heard Jake yelling croc and I boated over and he said a big croc surfaced and started swimming towards him, but got spooked when he yelled and went back under.”

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Yuku Baja Muliku rangers were onsite on Saturday and had been searching for the croc by boat, but no further sightings were reported.

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