A WOMAN who is still missing and was last night feared dead after being attacked by a crocodile during an evening swim has been named, The Sun reports. Cindy Waldron was wading waist-deep in the sea with her friend Leeann Mitchell when the reptile snapped on to her arm.
Leeann, 47, desperately fought in vain to pull her 46-year-old pal from the jaws of the saltwater crocodile as she screamed “a croc’s got me” before being pulled under the water. The pair wer childhood friends from New Zealand who had both moved to Australia. Cindy lives in Lithgow, New South Wales and was visiting Leeann in Cairns when they went swimming around 10pm on Saturday night at Thornton Beach.
Leeann’s cousin Alan Frost told the NZ Herald she was unhurt but recovering in hospital from shock. He said: “She has got good friends around her. Leeann is a really good person, she has some really good support around her.” The beach is known to be popular with crocodiles.
The two women were swimming at Thornton Beach, near Cairns, Queensland, Australia, on Saturday night when the horrifying scene unfolded. An eyewitness heard a blood-curdling cry from the woman as the animal latched on to her, before reportedly hearing her scream, “a croc’s got me, a croc’s got me” at about 10.30pm.
The horrifying episode triggered a massive response from emergency services including search helicopters swooping across the coast and water police. Efforts made to locate the woman during the night were unsuccessful in the dark but a fresh quest was launched by police at 7.30am local time, 10pm UK time.
He told The Sun: “We are waiting to find out if her next of kin have been informed before we release any more information about her.” Senior Constable Russell Parker for Queensland Police Service said: “Her 47-year-old friend tried to grab her and drag her to safety but she just wasn’t able to do that.”
“They had been walking along the beach and they’ve decided to go for a swim… it was probably a very nice, clear night, but obviously they may not have been aware of the dangers. “We believe they were visiting the area and weren’t local to it.” Paramedics took the victim’s friend to Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, with shock and minor injuries from the ordeal.
A helicopter searched the area on Sunday night and those efforts were continuing on Monday. Saltwater crocodiles, the largest living reptile in the world, can grow up to 23ft (7metres) in length. Most prey are ambushed, then drowned or swallowed whole including great white sharks, with the highest bite force of any living animal.
They can swim at up to 18mph — about three times faster than American Olympic Gold Medallist Michael Phelps, and 10.5mph running on land, less than half the speed of world-record breaking Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt who can reach 27.44 miles an hour. There have been fatal croc attacks near the Daintree River near Thornton Beach before.
Beryl Wruck, 43, was taken by a five-metre croc after a late-night dip in the shallows of Barratt Creek, just before Christmas 1985, which feeds into the Daintree River about an hour’s drive from Thornton Beach. Witnesses told of seeing a huge swirl in the water and Ms Wruck disappearing.
In February 2009 five-year-old Jeremy Doble died when he was attacked by a 4.3-metre crocodile in a swamp behind his home. He vanished, with his seven-year-old brother telling police he saw a croc before he disappeared.