Sunday, July 19, 2009

Woman drives into croc-infested river

A woman from NSW drove her car into a croc-infested river on the fringe of Kakadu National Park after confusing a boat ramp for a road crossing.

Her four-wheel-drive became submerged in the East Alligator River, about 300 kilometres east of Darwin, last Thursday.

The mishap has prompted police to issue a warning about the "number and size of crocodiles" in remote NT waterways, and the need for drivers to take extra care in the outback.

Police from the remote community of Oenpelli were contacted about 9am (CST) on July 10.

They were told the tourist had scrambled from the sinking vehicle and made her way out of the croc-infested waterway.

"She managed to get out of the car once she realised she had gone the wrong way and her car was going to sink," an NT police spokeswoman said.

"She did have to wade through the water but she didn't have to swim."

The woman had mistaken the boat ramp for Cahill's Crossing, which cars use to cross the East Alligator River and move between Kakadu and Arnhem Land.

A team of rangers and police officers was immediately organised to remove the white Troop Carrier, which had become surrounded by crocs near the down stream boat ramp.

Photographs of the 4WD recovery, released by NT police, show a large reptile in the water only metres from the vehicle.

"When they did the recovery they did spot crocs in the area and I believe that's (one of them) in the photograph," the spokeswoman said.

A local government grader was used in the rescue of the car, as well as support from a boat used by Kakadu Park Rangers.

"Jabiru and Oenpelli police along with park rangers coordinated the recovery of the vehicle and animal control," a police statement said.

Brevet Sergeant Ben Higgins said the lucky escape should act as a warning to people about the dangers of bush driving.

"When travelling through the NT it's their responsibility to research the area and be aware of the extreme road conditions, especially that of remote areas," he said.

"All water crossings should be considered extremely dangerous and exceptional care should be taken to avoid similar incidents such as these, especially considering the number and size of crocodiles that inhabit remote water ways."


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