September 15, 2010
MAN FIGHTS CROCODILE - Survives attack by poking reptile's eye
SHELDON WILLIAMS, STAR Writer
Leonardo Thompson now has a swollen face and stitches to his left eye and thumbs, but he is thankful to be alive after he was attacked by a crocodile in Hell-shire, St Catherine, on Sunday morning.
Thompson told THE STAR that "honestly, I thought I was going to die", after the crocodile, measuring about seven feet attacked him suddenly from behind, took aim at his head and pulled him with force under the water.
As he recounted the incident, Thompson said initially, he thought he was attacked by a shark, but later realised that it was a crocodile.
He said he went spearfishing and dived in proximity to the Hellshire Beach. Thompson said all was going according to plan until he felt a sudden grab towards the back of his head, followed by a forceful pull which brought him under the water, "mi feel sumthing grab me," Thompson remarked.
A struggle then developed as he tried desperately to remove his head from the jaws of the crocodile, but it was difficult as the reptile continued to pull him by the head until he was entirely submerged under the water.
As the struggle continued, Thompson said he became breathless as he wrestled to loosen his head from the crocodile's jaws, "mi could'nt breathe", Thompson told THE STAR.
During the battle to open the repitle's mouth, the sharp teeth pierced his fingers and it was at that time that he realised that he had to try another method to free himself.
Thompson told THE STAR that while his head was still under the water, he kept his composure, "no me never panic", as he remembered a tip he had seen on Discovery Channel and National Geographic which outlined how to survive a crocodile attack.
It was then that he decided to make use of the tip, poking the crocodile in its eyes.
He then removed one of his hands away from the crocodile's jaw and used it to stick the reptile in its eye. "A just one hand me use and feel fi him eye and him let me go," Thompson told THE STAR.
As soon as the crocodile released him Thompson made his escape back to shore, but by that time, "mi lose a lot of blood ... bleed out".
Thompson then managed to make his way to the nearby Fort Clearance Beach where he was assisted by lifeguards on duty who rushed him to the Spanish Town Hospital to receive medical attention.
Thompson told THE STAR that he felt that the crocodile "tried to drown me".
Interestingly, Thompson revealed that he has been diving and fishing in the same area for the past 10 years and this was the first time he had experienced something like that.
The crocodile attack was confirmed by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
When THE STAR spoke with wildlife biologist and acting Enforcement Manager of NEPA, Richard Nelson, he outlined that, "it's under very rare circumstances that crocodiles attack humans."
Nelson told THE STAR that he had made contact with Thompson who informed him that he had actually had fish attached to his waist while he continued spearfishing.
Nelson explained that the crocodile might have attacked Thompson to get the fish from his waist.
"Based on what I was told, the crocodile might have attacked the man because he was spearfishing which attracted the crocodile" Nelson said.
Nelson added that "the crocodile may have learnt that people come to the area to fish and it's a possible source of food ... it's a recipe for the animal to move in."
He said that he was impressed by the evasive action taken by Thompson to secure his escape from the crocodile.
"It is always said if a person is caught by a crocodile, it is always a good method to try and squeeze its eyes," Nelson explained.