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Man Beats Back Man-Eating Croc
posted (August 23, 2011)
As San Pedro Town expands in all directions across Ambergris Caye - the human population is steadily pushing into areas formerly occupied by wild animals - particularly crocodiles.

And increasingly there's close contact between the human population and those crocodiles. That's what confronted David Tut of the San Juan area of San Pedro on Saturday morning at 2:00 am when he was returning home: He was attacked by an American crocodile.

Now - if we followed the script of man versus croc - this story should be about a killer croc who claimed the life of a San Pedro man. But, it turns out, Tut is not an average guy; in the dark of the early morning he fought off the croc and got away.

He told Monica Bodden how he did it today:..

Monica Bodden Reporting
30 year old David Tut -is an experienced tour guide of San Pedro Town - But today he is also known on the island as the man who fought off a crocodile and survived to tell the story.

It happened on Saturday morning a little after 2 o'clock. Tut told us he was walking in the mangroves near the lagoon in the San Juan Area of San Pedro Town - when he heard a noise.

David Tut - Crocodile Survivor
"I was on the edge of the mangrove and I heard like rapid movement towards me but I am not sure if its humans trying to rob me - I am not thinking crocodile and so I jump in the water - in a narrow little stream of the river and got to the edge and then climb to the mangrove and I keep hearing like noise coming towards me. I went into the mangrove and heard the mangrove cracking and so I hop in the water to get away - not thinking that I am in the crocodile zone and as I move away maybe 50 feet from where I jump in I hear a splash in the water but I can't see anybody, it was dark and I couldn't see anybody. I notice that I was going a little off into the deep and I was crawling because I couldn't walk in the swamp - I was doing some back strokes trying to get to the edge - I just heard a plunge - like something sprang at me."

Tut was attacked by an American Crocodile. Half his head was inside the predator's mouth.

David Tut - Crocodile Survivor
"It was a lot of pressure - the blow to the head almost knock me out. It tried to shake me around and I scream heard. I was trying to push my hand into him and he tried to open his mouth to try to get a better grip of me - that's when I manage to put my hands."

The entire time Tut held unto the crocodile's jaw - fighting for his life -and trying to get a proper grip - so that he could unlock his head from the creature's mouth.

David Tut - Crocodile Survivor
"I was holding on to his jaw because I could feel him ripping my neck, so as I put my hand there he tried to get a better grip and he was shaking me around. I just try to hold on and scream and as he try to swallow me I manage to get a better grip and struggle to get him off of me."

Tut managed to escape from the deadly jaws of the American crocodile as the animal let go and then dived under the murky waters.

With blood gushing from the left side of his neck, and the crocodile still lurking under the water where he was- Tut was nowhere close to being safe.

David Tut - Crocodile Survivor
"I saw him just dive down to the side and I was going to turn my back and crawl away but I knew if I do that he was going to jump on my back. Keeping on a back stroke trying to get to the mangrove - it's a lot of swamp. I was barely struggling but I know I have to keep breathing and I notice that there was some big holes in my neck and they were bleeding really heavy and so he leap at me again. I saw this thing jump but its dark and I know it was a crocodile because he doesn't make any noise and I could hear a little snap so I manage to kick with my feet and my hands to just push him away and got lucky and grip into the mangrove."

After the second attack and narrowly escaping death once again - Tut managed to reach near the edge of the mangroves and pulled himself up.

David Tut - Crocodile Survivor
"I was losing my breathe to almost faint - it was getting cold and that's when I knew I haven't got much time - I am bleeding and so I took my shirt off and wrap it around my neck. There were a couple gashes and so I had to put the shirt on my hand but I was in the mangrove and there was no roads there - there is no quick exit. I was stumbling going headways crawling in the mud and I knew at that point it didn't matter if I get scrapes or cuts - I just got to get out of there, I knew I haven't had much time."

Tut made it out the marshy area in time and struggled to his house which is about a block away. That was when his family along with a few police officers took him to the Island's Doctor. On Saturday morning he flew to Belize City for treatment. He had four piercings to the left side of his neck and one in his head.

The organization called ACES - which stands for American Crocodile Education Sanctuary - and is stationed on the island - later learned about the incident. They were informed by residents of the area -that the crocodile that attacked Tut is a resident croc in the lagoon and is fed by everyone. On Saturday afternoon, their team went to survey the area and a crocodile trapped was set. Later that night this 13 foot American Crocodile - about 7 hundred and 50 pounds - was trapped.

In April that same crocodile was relocated from the area and was tagged as #32 and named Barry.

Monica Bodden
"What will be done to this crocodile here?"

Vice Rose - Founder of Aces
"This crocodile and all crocodiles that have been fed that have lost their fear of humans only have two choices; to be euthanized and or sanctuaries, zoos - places like that. That's where the unwanted animals go to. We are in the process of trying to build a little sanctuary holding facility here on San Pedro now because this is where the biggest conflicts come into place with these crocodiles. On the facility you saw this crocodile inn is meant for 5-6 foot crocodile and not a 13 foot crocodile and so we are still in the process of building and then hopefully we can get the next pen built which will be twice as large for a crocodile this size. But remember we are not in charge `of the wildlife in the country. The Belize Forest Department is. They will determine the fate of this animal. It's truly up to them. There is also no positive evidence that this very croc indeed to the damage. All we know is that where the incident took place within 24 hours we had caught a large crocodile that has been caught before. We have caught this crocodile 4 months ago, tag it and relocated it up north and it took him about 4 months to find his way back down here again. But everyone already knew that this was a problematic crocodile."

And even though there is no positive evidence that it was indeed this croc that attacked Tut - he will be kept in this holding facility - since he is considered problematic.

Vice Rose - Founder of Aces
"This particular animal is not known to be an aggressive man eater in any way shape or form but once again if you feed a large apex predator, naturally and normally it will run from you but once it's been fed directly or indirectly - once its lost its fear to human there are no guarantees. You basically created a time-bomb. This croc can explode at any time he wants because he no longer fears human."

"Absolute death was not far away. If this indeed was the crocodile. That crocodile is probably 750 pounds and it wouldn't take anything for him to drag someone under water and kill him. They are dangerous animal. That's why they are left alone and never fed."

David Tut - Crocodile Survivor
"No it's not the pain. It's just remembering the trauma of this attack. It's still painful."

Monica Bodden
"So every time you close your eyes you picture that night."

David Tut - Crocodile Survivor
"Yeah every time a relative or a friend comes over and ask what happen and I started talking about - its right back to having this guy trying to rip my head away. Yeah it is a little traumatizing and I am still into a shock but I say to them that I am not going to stay here; I am going to fight for this. So how exactly I survive? I am not too sure about it."

And even though Barry is safely locked in a holding facility on the island -the decision on whether he lives or is euthanized will be made by the Forestry Department.

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