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Teen Miraculously Survives Attack By Punching Croc In Head

A Queensland teen who acted on a foolish boast to swim at night in a croc-infested river was in the jaws of a saltie seconds after hitting the water.

The 18-year-old, Lee de Paauw, has undergone surgery for gruesome wounds to his arm after he leapt into the Johnstone River at Innisfail just before 2.30am on Sunday.

British backpacker Sophie Paterson said the teen had been boasting to drinking companions at a local hostel that he was willing to take a night-time dip in the river, which is a known croc habitat.


Within seconds of leaping from the Innisfail esplanade wharf, he was engaged in the fight of his life when a croc, said to be over three metres long, took him in its jaws.

"He was talking about the local creek saying 'I can swim out' and so we said 'go on then', but we didn't think he would do it," Ms Paterson has told The Courier-Mail.

"It all happened very fast, pretty much as soon as he jumped in, there was splashing and screaming. There was blood everywhere and he just wouldn't stop screaming."

Ms Paterson said she felt sorry for the local teenager, who would have known about the dangers of acting on his boast.

Paramedics say the teen was incredibly lucky to have freed himself from the croc's jaws before it went into a death roll and drowned him.

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said locals should understand the dangers of living in croc country.

"Most people have got common sense ... we can't legislate to protect dickheads ..." he told the paper.


It seems the teen has had a lifelong fascination with the animal - his Facebook page's most recent post dates back to 2013 where he shared a news report of a croc attack. 

Another post shows a sighting of a crocodile at a local fishing hole with the comment "Not Fishing Here". 

Brenton Gangemi, who owns local wildlife cruise company Snapping Tours, said he believed the croc was a three-and-a-half to four metre male saltwater crocodile that had been frequenting the area of late.


"He is very lucky. Initial reports was that his hand was completely amputated and on arrival that was not the case," QAS supervisor Rita Kelly said.

"So although he does have significant injuries, his arm is still intact, which is very fortunate."

De Paauw is currently in Cairns hospital in a stable condition.

Rangers are trying to locate the croc believed responsible for the latest attack.

AAP / Staff Writers

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