They will kill today. They killed yesterday. And they will kill tomorrow.”
-Alison Anderson, Former Environment Minister, the Northern Territory,Australia, on the rise of crocodile attacks
4. Champ’s Best Friend
Located in northeastern Australia, Daintree is a small tropical community defined by its 700 close-knit residents and the region’s striking natural beauty that hasn’t changed much in thousands of years.
Steve and Sharon Doble and their two sons, Jeremy, 5, and Ryan, 7, moved to the area in 2004. The family enjoyed five years of living in this quiet secluded settlement far away from the daily grind of the modern world.
And they loved the freedom and adventure of residing near the banks of the Daintree River, a beautiful ancient waterway that flows through a lush rainforest.
Steve, 40, and Sharon, 39, made a nice living operating the Daintree Rainforest River Train, an eco-friendly wildlife boat cruise that specialized in spotting crocodiles for tourists.
But on February 8, 2009, everything changed.
It was Sunday morning around 9:15. Jeremy, Ryan and their new boxer puppy, Champ, were playing behind their treehouse-style home that their parents had rebuilt.
The boys were taking turns pulling each other around on a boogie board through the shallow floodwaters of the Daintree River, which occasionally crept into their backyard during an especially high tide.
Champ was splashing in the water nearby when Jeremy noticed a large crocodile silently moving in to attack his puppy. Instinctively, Jeremy positioned himself between Champ and the croc and tried to make the giant predator go away.
But it didn’t go away.
Watching in horror, Ryan cried out for help as the 14-foot monster seized his little brother in its massive jaws.
Hearing the screams, Steve Doble ran down from the house and desperately tried to find Jeremy.
“When I got there, the area was deadly silent, no sounds of insects or anything,” Doble said during an interview with Australia’s Woman’s Day magazine. “I was calling out ‘Jeremy, it’s all right, Daddy’s here. You have to let me know where you are so I can find you.’ But he didn’t reply. I scrambled around the water and mud, but we found nothing.”
Doble spent over 20 hours a day for nearly two weeks searching every river and creek with authorities and friends. On Friday, February 13, their search ended when wildlife officers caught the killer saltwater croc known as “Goldie” to locals. The remains of Jeremy were found inside.
“The thing every parent looks forward to is seeing their child growing up,” said Doble during an interview with the Courier Mail. “But Jeremy will always remain a five-year-old boy and our memories of him will only be for those five years. That, for me, is the hardest thing to deal with…I don’t think we’ll ever get over it. It’s like having your soul wrenched from you and you’ll never get it back.”
A creek that runs through the Doble’s property has been named Jeremy Creek in recognition of their son’s spirit and courage.
Brave little Jeremy Doble gave his life to save Champ, who survived the attack with no injuries.
The exclusive five-part feature Eaten Alive: Five Killer Croc Attacks concludes with Part Five: “An Occurrence at Sandy Creek,” the story of a guide who leads a group of tourists to a beautiful swimming hole that has just one problem…it’s infested with man-eating crocs.