Tuesday, 3 April 2012

True North Crew Member Attacked by Croc Released from Hospital

pic: File image of adventure vessel, True North, showing helicopter.


A YOUNG woman who was attacked by a two-metre crocodile at a remote freshwater pool in the Kimberley region has been released from hospital.

Tara Hawkes, 23, a crew member on the tourist vessel True North, was swimming in Dugong Bay north of Derby on Sunday afternoon when a crocodile bit her upper leg as she left the water.

She was flown in the boat's helicopter to Derby Hospital, where she remained for two days before being released today.

Early today a Derby Hospital spokesman said Ms Hawkes was in a stable condition and was in "good spirits."

Peter Trembath of North Star Cruises, the vessel's operator, said Ms Hawkes' injuries were not serious and only required cleaning and stitches.

``We're pleased she's been discharged and we're expecting her to make a speedy recovery,'' he said.

``She loves her job and loves what she does, and I expect she'll be back at work as soon as she can.''

Mr Trembath said crew members had checked the crystal-clear pool and seen no crocs, but obviously one was there.

``As Tara was getting out of the water it latched onto her leg, but fortunately it wasn't a very big animal.''

Mr Trembath said the animal might have been a big freshwater croc or a small saltwater one.

``Freshies don't normally bite unless you step on them or if you corner them, which could have happened as she stepped out of the water.''

Mr Trembath said early reports of tour passengers having a tug-of-war with the animal to free Ms Hawkes were not true.

WA's Department of Environment and Conservation has put out an alert to tour operators not to let people swim in the area because it's believed the crocodile is still there.

A department spokeswoman said it was believed the animal was a saltwater crocodile.

The True North, which can carry up to 36 passengers, is continuing on its adventure cruise.

A wildlife officer was on the way to the scene of the attack and the DEC says it is assessing options to deal with the crocodile.

Dugong Bay is south of Talbot Bay, near Horizontal Falls, off Derby, 2500km north of Perth.

True North, which can carry 36 passengers and has 20 staff, was purpose-built to access remote wilderness areas. It was the cruise ship used by American model Jerry Hall and her Perth-based boyfriend Warwick Hemsley on a recent trip to the Kimberley.

Ms Hawkes posted pictures of True North on her Facebook page.

Passengers pay thousands a day for a berth - a seven-night Kimberley adventure costs $9000-$14,000 a person.

The vessel is due to take passengers from Wyndham to the King George Falls this weekend.