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Man nearly loses arm to crocodile while trying to impress girl

A man nearly had his arm ripped off by a crocodile after he bragged that he could swim through an infested river in an attempt to impress a girl.

Lee de Paauw, 18, of Queensland state, who was staying at a hostel, boasted that he could swim across a crocodile-infested river, and a group egged him on. 

“I just wanted to show the backpacker. I got her number and her name is Sophie,” he told a morning radio show, according to the Courier-Mail. “I started telling (her that) backpackers are more likely to get eaten by crocodiles than Australians, so we decided to go down to the river and test the theory.” 

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After drinking about “10 cups of goon,” he leaped from the wharf into the Johnstone River at 2:20 a.m. He was almost immediately attacked by the crocodile and was dragged about 20 feet. 

“It all happened very fast. Pretty much as soon as he jumped in, there was splashing and screaming. There was blood everywhere, and he just wouldn’t stop screaming,” Sophie Paterson, 24, told the Courier-Mail. “He was talking about the local creek, saying, ‘I can swim out’ and so we said, ‘Go on then,’ but we didn’t think he would do it.” 

De Paauw fought off the reptile by punching it in the head, nose and eye. He pulled himself from the water with the help of friends, according to the Cairns Post

“I hit it once on the nose (and) it loosened a bit,” de Paauw said. “I got another hit in and it was right on its eye. I was lucky because it just dropped me.” 

De Paauw is recovering at a hospital from the bite to his left arm. 

Environment and Heritage Protection officers have set a trap to capture the crocodile, which is estimated at about 10 feet. 

“I don’t want that crocodile harmed,” de Paauw told the Courier-Mail. “I want it released back into the wild and I want it to have a happy life.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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