Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sean Cole taken by croc at NT party - Sydney Morning Herald

SES and National Parks staff search for the body of a man who was taken by a crocodile on Mary River.

Hopeless: Rangers search for the body of Sean Cole who was taken by a crocodile on Mary River. Photo: Channel Nine News

Sean Cole was among about 15 friends celebrating a 30th birthday on the banks of the Northern Territory's Mary River - home to the world's highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles - when he and a mate decided to plunge in for a swim.

They ignored the signs and verbal warnings from staff at the Mary River Wilderness Retreat and Caravan Park: this is no place to swim.

A five-metre crocodile was waiting for Mr Cole, in his 20s, an IT worker from Darwin. His friends watched helplessly from the bank as the crocodile grabbed him between its jaws and dragged him under the surface of the muddy river about 4pm on Saturday. He hasn't been seen since.

Sean Cole

Victim: Sean Cole. Photo: Nine News Darwin

His mate made it safely back to the bank, where his friends had gathered for the birthday party at the resort, halfway between Darwin and Kakadu National Park.


On Sunday afternoon they were still watching hopelessly as police dragged the river in search of his remains.

Mr Cole's parents and sister arrived from their home in Katherine, where he grew up. It was a four-hour drive during which they had to comprehend the tragedy and confront the inevitability that he was dead. ''Our thoughts are with his family,'' Erin Bayard, a manager at the resort said.

Mrs Bayard said the group had received the same ''spiel'' that was delivered to all guests. ''When you get here, you are told there are crocs, that the river is full of them. Don't swim. Stay at least five metres back from the river. If people follow that advice, it is entirely safe. We have never had an attack before this.''

Police shot a large crocodile lurking nearby - unlikely to be the one involved in the attack - to ensure the territorial reptile did not endanger searchers. When people are taken in billabongs, police sometimes shoot a croc so it can be cut open to search for the victim.

That would be pointless in Mary River, where many hundreds of crocodiles pass up and down the waterway, Senior Sergeant Geoff Bahnert at Darwin police said. ''This river has the highest density of saltwater crocodiles in the world,'' he said.
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