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
5. An Occurrence at Sandy Creek
At 10 p.m. on October 12, 2002, Isabel and Valarie von Jordan left the Sari Club in Bali one hour before a bomb destroyed the bar and killed 202 people and injured 209 in a neighborhood terrorist attack.
The sisters, students from Heidelberg, Germany, wanted to forget the horror of the tragedy so they decided to spend the rest of their vacation somewhere safer – the Australian Outback.
At 7 a.m. on Sunday, October 20, the pair embarked on a four-day tour of Kakadu National Park, a vast timeless wilderness known for its stunning beauty and diverse wildlife.
Isabel, 23, and Valarie, 21, were part of a group of nine tourists led by Glenn Robless, a 46-year-old guide who worked for Gondwana Adventure Tours.
On Tuesday night, the campers were sitting around telling stories and sharing some laughs. Around 10:30 p.m., they decided to freshen up and go for a swim. Robless said he knew just the place about a half-mile away.
When the group arrived at Sandy Creek beach, they thought it was a perfect spot. The sand was soft and cool. The 10-foot high banks that framed the cove were home to a mini-forest of trees and tropical plants. And the full moon’s reflection gleamed over the inviting, tranquil water.
But a few of the tourists were concerned – several crocodile warning signs were posted.
Robless quickly assured everyone the waters were safe and that only harmless freshwater crocs might be present, not the fearsome man-eating salties.
He also added Sandy Creek was a famous place where Aboriginal people had been swimming for years. In addition, Robless checked the waters by shining a torch around the immediate area, looking for an “eye shine” – a reflection of red croc eyes above the surface. He saw none.
Satisfied, several of the campers entered the water around 11 p.m., including Isabel and Valarie.
James Rothwell, 24, a British tourist in the group remembers the horror that followed.
“We were about 10 yards out from the shore, all within sight and arm’s length of each other,” Rothwell said later in an official statement. “I felt a bang on my leg and seconds later heard a girl scream. And the girl went under the water.
“We got to the shore and shone torches on the water,” Rothwell continued. “We saw with the torches two red eyes going away from where the girl had just gone under. And we saw the outline of a crocodile swimming along the surface of the water.”
By 6:30 a.m., four park rangers found Isabel von Jordan’s mutilated body and captured the 15-foot, 1,100-pound saltwater crocodile that killed her. The sight of Isabel’s limp body in the reptile’s jaws still haunts them.
“It was sitting in the water like a dog with a bone,” said Kakadu National Park Ranger Garry Lindner during an interview with the London Independent. “Time stood still for me. I watched it swim along with the girl in its mouth. It wouldn’t let go.”
Tour guide Robless received a three-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to making a dangerous omission that caused Isabel von Jordan’s death.
The rangers said they saw eight large saltwater crocs in Sandy Creek while they were searching for Isabel’s body.
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