Australian teenager who survived crocodile attack wins a date with British girl with his 'stupid' action

Nandini Krishnamoorthy
Large crocodile captured in Australia

An Australian teenager, who is lucky to be alive after being bitten by a crocodile, is reported to have won a date with a British backpacker he was trying to impress. He described his own action as stupid.

Lee De Paauw, 18, jumped into crocodile-infested Johnstone River in northern Queensland on a dare on Saturday (18 March). He was apparently boasting about how he could swim across the river because he wanted to make an impression on 24-year-old Sophie Paterson, the girl he had a crush on.

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Local media reports suggested that De Paauw told Paterson that backpackers were more likely to be attacked by crocodiles than local residents. He apparently decided to put the theory to test. He was almost immediately grabbed by the crocodile and dragged for 6m.

"Holy crap, I'm gone for sure," De Paauw told Reuters from his hospital bed in Cairns on Monday (20 March).

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"At that point, I punched it in the snout. My second hit, I got it straight in the eye, and then it let go."
He then managed to swim to the stairs and get out of the river with serious injuries to his left arm, the youth said. He underwent a surgery at Cairns Hospital, the news agency reported.

When asked how he would account for his action, De Paauw said: "Stupidity, you know there's crocs there."

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Although she was all praise for the teenager, Paterson felt there was nothing impressive about getting bitten by a crocodile.

"Risking your life, there's nothing funny about that ... I think he's very brave to be, you know, in such high spirits after what happened, but no, not impressed by somebody risking their life, you know, in such a way."

De Paauw said he accepted the dare "for Sophie" because "she's beautiful, caring and kind".

Lee De Paauw

The teenager encountered a saltwater crocodile – known as an estuarine crocodile or "saltie" – which is reported to have been only about 4ft long. However, such crocodiles reportedly have the highest bite force recorded in any animal and are one of the few animals that routinely hunt humans when the opportunity arises.

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