BRENDAN TREMBATH: A man who survived a crocodile attack in Broome says he was curious about the animals because they came to him in his dreams.
Michael Newman nearly had his right leg taken off after he climbed into a crocodile enclosure at a wildlife park on Monday night.
The 36-year-old said he wanted to experience something he’d never done before.
David Weber reports.
DAVID WEBER: Michael Newman says that over the past few weeks he’s been having a lot of dreams about crocodiles.
MICHAEL NEWMAN: And the last dream I had was about a crocodile in the water, inside of my dream and he was in the water. He would’ve been like a two-and-a-half metre crocodile in my dream. And I picked up a big stone and a sound come out of the water and said ‘Where do you come from?’ and I threw the stone in the water and the crocodile swum off.
And ever since then I’ve had, um… I’ve had a way of trying to see a real crocodile because I hadn’t ever seen a real crocodile in my lifetime.
DAVID WEBER: Mr Newman says he decided on Monday night after he’d had a few beers that he might go into the wildlife park.
He says he was looking for two crocodiles he’d seen before.
MICHAEL NEWMAN: So I kept on walking around and I seen this really big alligator – the five metre one -over the fence, and he wasn’t far from the fence and I tried putting my hand through the fence to just feel it, the skin, what the skin feels like. So I couldn’t reach it and I thought to myself ‘Well, I’ll jump the fence and go from behind its tail and pat it and sit on its back’.
DAVID WEBER: That decision nearly cost him his life.
Fatso the Crocodile weighs about 800 kilograms.
He did not react well to having a strange man in his pen, as Mr Newman explains.
MICHAEL NEWMAN: Before I even just slightly touched its back, it already had me. It grabbed my leg here. Yeah I got a bandage on and it’s really like severe bites – all the skin here was ripped off and um, put a big hole through the sides of my leg here and I think they stitched it up.
DAVID WEBER: Michael Newman says the crocodile lost interest in him and went for his torch, and this gave him time to climb out of the enclosure.
MICHAEL NEWMAN: Then I’ve jumped the fence, and I kept on walking around in circles trying to get out.
Then I went to another fence and as I grabbed onto the other fence I’m thinking ‘If I climb this one, I’m out of here’, another croc’s come out and gone “ROAR” and I thought ‘Shit, that’s the wrong way out of here’.
And I’m walking and walking and I went past this incubating place, where they’re incubating the crocodile eggs. It was all lit up and they’re making babies in the eggs there. Then I looked over to my left and I seen the city, the lights, and then I remembered the way I got in.
So that way I went out and I climbed out that way and I felt the blood splurting out of my leg and as I’m putting pressure on my leg, I can feel on the side of all my kneecap that it’s all cracked and shattered.
DAVID WEBER: Now he’s been through several drips of antibiotics to combat any potential disease.
Malcolm Douglas, who runs the park, says the man’s lucky to be alive.
MALCOLM DOUGLAS: What can you do?
If someone wants to break into something, wouldn’t matter whether you had, we had triple… Well, we had three lots of fencing, he basically got through, it wouldn’t matter what you did. If you were that sort of person, there’s not a lot you can do about it is there?
They want to do something brave, they want to do something stupid, they want to do something to tell their mates. It would’ve been a shocking way to die and it would’ve been incredibly upsetting for me and our staff and family, and especially the whole of Broome. We don’t want things like this to happen.
DAVID WEBER: Fatso the crocodile is seemingly oblivious to his new-found fame.
BRENDAN TREMBATH: David Weber.