‘The croc took my Sam’
“I was walking through the park, turned my head to look at my dog, I said ‘come on, we’ve got to get home’ and then a croc came out of the water and took him.
“I heard the croc’s jaw slam shut.
“I could see my dog in the crocs jaws.”
This is the Churchill told the week.
On Wednesday morning she was walking her labrador Sam through the park at Ferndale Lake, aptly named Warri Park (translation: run away), near her home in Port Douglas.
The next four minutes turned into the “most frightening experience” of her life.
“After the croc took him I could just see splashing and hear yelping,” she said.
“I looked around for assistance but there was no one around.
“I felt so helpless, but I couldn’t get in the water.
“But then by some miracle the croc just let him go. I could see the croc still beside him, a couple metres offshore.
“I was calling out frantically to the dog who couldn’t paddle fast enough.
“And then it went deadly silent. story Jan this
“I thought he was gone. But when I sneaked a bit closer to the shore I could see him, half in the water and half on the bank.
“His eyes were open and his head was up but he was gone, just in a daze.”
Jan called out to Sam for what seemed like “forever”.
Just as she thought all hope was lost Sam moved.
“I wanted to pull Sammy in but I had no idea where the croc was. The croc could pull me in as I grabbed Sammy.
“I was screaming at him ‘Sammy come here, come here boy!’ and then finally he pulled himself up and ran to me.”
Together they bolted all the way home.
“All the way home Sam was looking behind us, I think he thought the croc was following,” she said.
Sam was taken to a veterinary surgery in Mossman and put into surgery immediately.
He had nine puncture wounds and a missing tooth.
Last Sunday, four days after the attack, Sam died.
His injuries proved too much for the 13-year-old dog.
“It was too traumatic for him,” she said.
“His old body just couldn’t recover.”
The devastating chronicle of events now has Jan worried about the safety of children.
“It looks lovely, there’s a lot of wildlife and birds but the path is so close to the water’s edge and look what happened to us,” she said.
“What happens if a family came with kids and didn’t know any better?
“Sam just couldn’t come back from an attack like that and neither would a young child I think.
“It’s not safe enough and I don’t want to see a child taken.”
For Jan this run in with a “thousand-year-old predator” has hit too close to home.
Jan Churchill and daughter Cassie with Sam, who died a few days later. Inset: A crocodile in Ferndale Lake last week