SYDNEY • An Australian teenager is lucky to be alive, paramedics said yesterday, after he reportedly escaped the jaws of a crocodile by punching it in the head during a late night swim in a river.
The 18-year-old, named in local media as Lee De Paauw, suffered extensive injuries to his left arm after he was attacked in Johnstone River on Australia's north-eastern coast, said the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS).
He had jumped into the river as a dare while "revelling with friends", QAS Cairns senior operations supervisor Neil Noble told reporters. They were reportedly consuming alcohol at the time.
"He's very fortunate that he survived... (he's) due to undergo surgery for extensive injuries to his arm," Mr Noble said.
The Cairns Post said Mr De Paauw escaped the crocodile's grip on his left arm by punching it in the head with his right arm.
Mr De Paauw's friends' efforts to get him out of the water quickly helped him survive, Mr Noble added. He was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to Innisfail Hospital, then transferred to Cairns Hospital.
Crocodiles are common in Australia's north where their numbers have increased since the introduction of protection laws in 1971.
Crocodiles kill an average of two people each year in Australia.