Wednesday, December 22, 2010
More Info On Crocodile Attack On Hendri Coetzee
A couple of weeks back the adventure community was shocked and saddened to learn about the death of Hendri Coetzee, a South African kayak guide who had paddled throughout Africa. Coetzee was leading a First Ascent sponsored team down the Lukuga River in the Democratic Republic of Congo when he was suddenly attacked and pulled from his boat by a large crocodile. At the time, the details of the event were a bit sketchy, but now that the paddlers on the expedition have returned home, the story is starting to fill in.
According to this story from the Associated Press, Coetzee was paddling a rather calm and peaceful stretch of the river alongside American kayakers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic, when the attack occurred. Apparently, the men were just 4 or 5 feet apart, and unaware that they were being stalked by one of the most deadly predators on the planet. The Nile Croc, which is common in the region, crept up behind Coetzee, and pulled him under in a flash. Stookesberry and Korbulic barely had time to shout before the entire incident was over. The hungry croc grabbed their guide and disappeared back under the water, and neither were seen again.
The attack came after the trio had run a 30 mile section of whitewater and were preparing for a long stretch of easy paddling. The river had plenty of wildlife, including hippos and crocs, two of the most dangerous animals in Africa, but that morning the team had only seen a few small crocs, which were of little concern. After weeks of paddling African rivers, they had grown use to the creatures there, and had learned to avoid them as best they could.
The article says that after the attack, Stookesberry and Korbulic sat stunned for 20 seconds before paddling as fast as they could to shore. They reached the bank a mile down stream and retrieved Coetzee's red kayak as it floated by. There weren't even any scratch marks on it to tell the tale of what had occurred.
According to the story, the croc that attack the South African guide was "at least 15 feet long and weighed up to 2 tons." While Nile Crocs can grow in excess of 16 feet, it is extremely rare. Large males are in that 15-16 feet range and weigh roughly 500 pounds. The largest ever recorded did reach over 21 feet in length and weighed 2400 pounds, well below the 2 tons quoted in the article. Still, they are powerful beasts that are amongst the most dangerous animals on the planet, and when you're in their element, you pretty much have no chance.
Thanks to Jason over at Extreme Adventure News for the tip on this story.