Woman attacked by crocodile during night swim

  • 30/05/2016

The search for a Kiwi woman feared dead after being attacked by a crocodile in far north Queensland has been suspended for the night.

Emergency crews had been searching for Cindy Waldron on land, sea and air, after the 46-year-old was believed to have been dragged away while swimming at Thornton Beach in Daintree, north of Cairns, around 10:30pm on Sunday. 

A Queensland police spokesman said the large-scale search was called off for the night around 7pm NZT on Monday and would resume in the morning.

Ms Waldron yelled out, "A croc's got me," to her friend Leeann Mitchell, asking her to pull her to safety, according to the Today show. However, she couldn't be helped.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed to Newshub it's "aware a New Zealander is missing in far north Queensland and has been in contact with New Zealand relatives of the woman. Consular staff are seeking information from Australian authorities on behalf of the family.

"Out of respect for the family's privacy we will not be commenting further."

Ms Mitchell was with Ms Waldron in waist-deep water when the crocodile struck. She was taken to hospital suffering shock and grazes.

A relative of Ms Mitchell's told Newshub she was still in hospital in the company of good friends. 

Thornton Beach is known to be a hotspot for crocodiles, and there have been fatal attacks near the beach previously.

MP for northern Queensland Warren Entsch says "you can't legislate against human stupidity", in response to calls for a vendetta against crocodiles in the area.

"This is a tragedy but it was avoidable. There are warning signs everywhere up there," he told The Guardian.

But Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu told Newshub the small community has been left shaken by the incident.

"We're really shocked and all saddened that this has happened. It is unusual. In the last probably 35 years there has only been three people taken by a crocodile.

"In far North Queensland and particularly in the Daintree National Park, you always need to be careful, very careful, when they are in the known crocodile habitat."

She says the beach is very low-lying, and there may have been small estuaries or creeks that flow into the beach area.

"The road is very close to the beach and people will walk out onto the beach. It's unusually to swim in the evening, or at dark, so it's very, very tragic and unfortunate that this has occurred.

"We're a very small and tightknit community in Daintree, so our hearts go out to family and friends of this woman."

Ms Leu says the area has a strong eco-tourism industry, and holds crocodile tours.

"The whole of the area is a crocodile habitat and it's well known there are crocodiles there, and normally people would take a lot of care."