Woman taken while fish­ing in Arn­hem Land

NT News - - FRONT PAGE - JU­DITH AISTHORPE Po­lice Re­porter

A FE­MALE in­dige­nous ranger was killed af­ter a croc­o­dile grabbed her while she was fish­ing with fam­ily at a bil­l­abong.

She was fish­ing at the wa­ter­hole near the re­mote com­mu­nity of Gan Gan in East Arn­hem Land when the croc snatched her.

The woman was col­lect­ing mus­sels and fish­ing with seven fam­ily mem­bers – all women and chil­dren – when she was taken about 10am yes­ter­day.

Ini­tial po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­di­cated she was in the wa­ter up to waist deep.

At about 5pm yes­ter­day po­lice and rangers tracked down the croc­o­dile, which was found less than 1km from where the woman was last seen.

Po­lice had worked with the com­mu­nity to search the wa­ter­ways for the woman.

The croc­o­dile was de­stroyed and the woman’s body re­cov­ered.

NT Po­lice North­ern Com­mand Com­man­der Tony Fuller said fam­ily mem­bers no­ticed she was miss­ing af­ter see­ing the bucket she was car- ry­ing float­ing in the wa­ter.

“The group no­ticed that she was miss­ing and they saw the bucket was there, and they heard some splash­ing,” he said.

They no­ti­fied author­i­ties and the search be­gan.

Com­man­der Fuller said po­lice were still to in­ter­view all the wit­nesses.

The woman is un­der­stood to be em­ployed as an in­dige­nous ranger with lo­cal ranger group Yir­rkala Rangers in the Layn­hapuy In­dige­nous Pro­tected Area.

There was some con­fu­sion around the in­ci­dent, with po­lice un­able to con­firm if the woman was work­ing at the time. But NT Work­Safe has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent.

“NT Work­Safe has been no­ti­fied that a fe­male Abo­rig­i­nal ranger has been taken by a croc­o­dile ap­prox­i­mately 206km south­west of Yir­rkala,” the NT Work­Safe state­ment read. “NT Work­Safe has com­menced an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent.”

Com­man­der Fuller said it took po­lice from Nhu­lun­buy and Lake Evella three hours to drive to the re­mote lo­ca­tion.

Layn­hapuy Home­lands Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Christo­pher Fran­cis said it was no­ti­fied of the in­ci­dent at 11am.

“At 11am Laynha was ad­vised that an in­ci­dent had oc­curred in Gan Gan. Po­lice are trav­el­ling to the scene now to in­ves­ti­gate. At this time, we are un­able to con­firm any more de­tails,” he said.

Com­man­der Fuller said a re­port would be pre­pared for the coro­ner.

“A re­port will be pre­pared for the coro­ner to find out ex­actly what the cir­cum­stances were that led to her dis­ap­pear­ance,” he said.

“A re­port will be pre­pared for the coro­ner to find out ... the cir­cum­stances” COM­MAN­DER TONY FULLER

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